Sunday, August 21, 2011

Welcome to the University of Iowa!

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.

Today we are looking forward to the new things you will learn here at Iowa, the new discoveries you will help bring about, the new skills and experiences that you will develop for your promising future. But today we are also setting the foundations of tradition for you as a current and, from now on, forever Hawkeye.

Music has played an important part in Iowa’s traditions for decades. In just a few minutes, you will be introduced to the beautiful melody and words of our “Old Gold Hymn.” Last Friday, you learned the Iowa Fight Song that you will be able to put to the test at our Hawkeye football opener in just a couple of weeks. Another song that you will often hear from our marching band as they rouse the Hawkeye spirit is “On Iowa.” That’s also the name of our welcome program you’re enjoying this week, and it’s an idea that reflects both Iowa’s traditions and its forward-looking vision. The “On Iowa” song says, “A heritage to us you did unfold,” which “makes us proud for what you stand, our dear Old Gold.” And it urges, “On, Iowa, proudly at the fore,/On, Iowa, on forever more.”

So today you are embarking on your Iowa journey that will help you bring new inventions, new artistic creations, new knowledge, new businesses, and many more new innovations into the world. But today we are also reflecting on how you are joining a tradition of past Iowa students who have made their marks on the world, like playwright Tennessee Williams, jazz musician Al Jarreau, novelist Flannery O’Connor, news anchor Tom Brokaw, physicist James Van Allen, painter Elizabeth Catlett, actor Ashton Kutcher, film and television producer Marian Rees, pollster George Gallup, film director Nicholas Meyer, and basketball player B. J. Armstrong.

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.