Speaker of the Faculty's Remarks
Opening Convocation Remarks
Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013
Michele DeMary, Speaker of the Faculty
Good afternoon. My name is Michele DeMary and as Speaker of the Faculty it is my pleasure to represent the 150 members of our faculty in welcoming the Class of 2017, your family, and your friends to Susquehanna University.
You will hear lots of “words of advice” over the next few days as you become acclimated to your new life here at SU, all of it aimed at helping you to make the most out of your next four years here. The opportunities for growth and engagement are plentiful. I would encourage you to take advantage of those activities that interest you; these activities will not only enrich your life here at SU but can be steppingstones toward your future. We have students who served in student government who are now elected officials, students who were active in campus ministries who now serve their own congregations, and former RAs who now work in student life programs in schools across the country.
As a faculty member, however, I would be remiss if I didn’t encourage you to become just as engaged in the intellectual life of the university. I guarantee you that there is a niche here for each and every one of you. We have a rich central curriculum and a talented faculty on this campus from many disciplines. Some classes will engage you in experiential learning, from trials to lab experiments to dramatic performances to public presentations, and these are only the beginning. As Theodore Geisel (also known as Dr. Seuss) reminds us—"Oh the thinks you can think up if only you try!”
You can work collaboratively with a professor on projects involving wolf spiders, art collections, or prison reform. You will have the opportunity to work as an intern in business, government, museums, or the arts. And perhaps most exciting of all, collectively you will travel to all parts of the globe through GO programs. Some of you may travel to more traditional venues such as France or Australia, while others will venture to the Gambia, Cyprus, China, Argentina or South Africa.
We hope that you will find yourself increasingly active in intellectual pursuits over the next four years. Many of these pursuits will require you to engage with the faculty. Let me tell you two secrets about faculty at Susquehanna that may make it easier to engage with us.
First, we are human. Hard as it may be to believe, we were once first year students at our respective undergraduate institutions, and we understand that all learning does not happen in the classroom. We don’t expect you to give us all your time…but we do expect some. Begin by setting good habits from the start. Come to class, do your readings, finish your work—these are simple lessons but important ones. But if you don’t get off to a good start, if you find yourself falling behind, or feeling overwhelmed by your work, come and see us. We want you to succeed and will work with you to get you past your hurdles.
The second thing to remember about faculty is that we are all students at heart. We are actively engaged in research and teaching because we want to keep learning, and we want you to be a part of the process. We are faculty who have chosen to teach at a small, liberal arts college because we are committed to the value of quality teaching that is informed by scholarship, and quite frankly, we love the interaction with our students.
Taking advantage of all that Susquehanna has to offer will take you to new and exciting places. Let me close with a story that gives a real-life example of this. This summer I had the pleasure of spending six weeks with a group of Susquehanna students on a GO Program to Aix-en-Provence in the south of France. This experience was wonderful for me in a variety of ways, not the least of which was the ability it gave me to learn new things with our students in a very different setting. But of more pertinence to you is the SU reunion of sorts that took place while we were there.
While we were in Aix we met with a recent alumna who was studying there to brush up on her French, and with two 1990 alums. These two women had been roommates at Susquehanna. One of the women, Cathleen Keenan Church, is living and teaching in Aix, and her Susquehanna roommate, Holly Zeller, was visiting from New Jersey. As we were all gathered in the Place de l’Archevêché in Aix enjoying some light refreshment, Cathleen said to Holly: “Who would have thought when we met as roommates during our first year at Susquehanna, that we would be meeting here almost 20 years later, in this beautiful city in the South of France with a group of Susquehanna students?”
I was reminded of another of Dr. Seuss’ books, Oh the Places You’ll Go. Who knows where you and the friends you make this year will end up in 20 years. May you find that Susquehanna will launch you into a future of excitement and fulfillment. The faculty looks forward to being with you as you begin that journey.