Sunday, August 19, 2012

The beginning of a new academic year always brings us together as a united university community. That’s one of the reasons I love this ceremony so much—to see this large crowd of new students ready to embark on a new phase of life, coming here to the UI from many different places across the state, from across the country, and even from around the world. While we are a big place with many people from many places, we find common purpose in our dedication to each other and to our educational mission. We are all part of the Hawkeye family. This convocation celebrates that family solidarity and welcomes you, our wonderful new students, into our midst.

While we all come to the university from different backgrounds and with different talents, interests, and goals, one thing that I know you will all experience in common as Iowa students is transformation. I know that a few years from now, when you are ready to step across the stage at commencement to accept your diploma, you will look back at these first days of your college career and marvel at how much you have changed.

The intellectual changes that you will experience through your learning will astound you. As you experience each new class, you will see the world with new eyes, greater knowledge, and an even more open mind. This will lead to your being transformed into a well-prepared professional as well, as you embark on a career with highly developed critical thinking abilities and sophisticated skills in your areas of expertise.

The changes you will undergo from your Iowa experience will certainly provide you with personal benefit. But you will also become even more effective contributors to your community and greater society. Here at Iowa, you will learn to collaborate with people from diverse backgrounds, gain experience through organizations and internships, participate in service activities, and maybe even study for a time in another country. These life-changing experiences will give you not only new knowledge and professional skills, but they will also prepare you to make the world a better place, in your local community and far beyond.

The mission of the university is change and transformation. The overall goal of our work—whether it is in teaching and learning, research and creative work, or service to society—is the discovery and application of new knowledge to make life better for all. That’s the journey that our faculty and staff embark upon each year, and that’s the same journey that you will join us on starting right now. You will most definitely grow as a person—and let me tell you, how much you will grow will astonish you. But you will also make contributions to your community and society—while you are here at Iowa and long after—that you had never imagined.

We welcome you into the Hawkeye family—past, present, and future—with open arms, open hearts, and open minds. This is one of the most exciting times of your life—embarking on your college career. We are honored that you chose to have that experience here with us, and we can’t wait to see what contributions you make to our Iowa traditions and the world’s wonderful future.