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Convocation Address 2019

President Anthony S. Caprio 
August 26, 2019

Good Morning, everyone. I welcome each of you to this opening of Academic Year 2019-20. On behalf of the entire University, I welcome our new students. We are all so happy to have you with us. We are eager to work with you.

Academic Convocations are held to convene members of the campus community at the beginning of the academic year—to bring us all together to start a new year of learning. But our Convocation is much more. It is an opportunity to reinforce for all of us that we are a part of a community of learning and of personal growth. We are a place of role models, a setting where we all eagerly learn from each other. And it is not just students learning from professors; we also learn from you. In addition, students learn from students. Faculty, staff, and students are all a resource for each other. You are in a very special environment at Western New England where we all rely on each other to help us with our own personal growth and development. We are all privileged to be in such a setting.

So here you are, new students. Here we all are entering fall semester of our Centennial year 2019. You have seen the banners throughout campus, proclaiming our Centennial, our first century, our first 100 years. This University has had a remarkable history, with constant evolution and growth. There is not enough time for me now to give you a comprehensive history of our University. But I will say to you, our new students, that you already have a unique place in our history. It was 100 years ago that the first students attended classes at the original site of our institution in its opening semester—September 1919. Fast forward 100 years—we are entering the second century of Western New England, the first decade of the second century. You are the first students to enter this great University in our second century. Welcome today. Welcome into our history. You are the foundation of our second century. It is through you, because of you, and through the diverse talents and attributes you bring, that we will excel even more. This Centennial gives us the opportunity to reflect upon and to marvel at all that has evolved, grown, developed, and been nurtured in our first hundred years. One historic century. One bright future. I can’t impress upon you adequately how important a role you will play in our evolution.

A total of 47,945 individual alumni graduated from Western New England in our first century—the last 900 of whom just this past May. Our new arrivals today, 825 of you, will sooner than you realize join these first century graduates. It inspires me when I think of all these alumni and of you who are now a part of our community—when I think of the extent to which lives are transformed and enriched by a Western New England education and experience.

I just alluded to your talents, skills, and attributes. At past Convocations I have traditionally shared with the audience these impressive aspects of our new students. I will continue that tradition today but in an abbreviated format.

• You hail from far and near: from just about every town in Massachusetts; from dozens of towns in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and New Hampshire; from 8 foreign countries and 20 states.

• Transfer students have attended 49 different colleges from across the U.S. Half of these students are from a community college with almost all having earned the Associate’s degree.

• Twenty-seven percent (27%) of you list yourselves as African American, American Indian, Hispanic, Asian, or multiracial; or are international students. This is a campus, as you will quickly learn, that welcomes, supports, and embraces all students (actually every individual) regardless of differences in appearance, manner, ideas, culture, ethnic heritage, sexual orientation, or personal belief. This is our standard and we expect this of everyone without exception.

• You have expressed interest in 67 separate majors or concentrations. One hundred and fifty (150) of you will be focusing your studies in the Physical or Biological Sciences. Sixty (60) of you have expressed interest in Criminal Justice. One hundred and seventy (170) of you are beginning your studies in Engineering. Thirty-five (35) of you will pursue an Accounting or Finance major, and sixty (60), Sport Management. Sixty (60) of you have been conditionally admitted into one of our five-year joint bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in Business or Engineering. Seventy-five (75) of you have expressed an interest in our 3 + 3 Law Program through which you seek admission and enter into Western New England University School of Law upon completion of your junior year. One hundred and thirty (130) of you are not sure about a major. But not to worry. We will help you explore and choose.

• Two hundred and twenty-nine (229) freshmen have completed college courses while in high school or have college credits through AP courses. Forty-three (43) of you will be matriculating as second semester freshmen, and 6 freshmen in the audience have earned enough credits to be classified as sophomores.
One hundred and forty (140) of you told us they would like to study abroad.
At least sixty-five (65) of you served as captains of a varsity team.

• One of you co-founded a social media presence, “The Science Overlords”, whose mission is to educate peers and grow interest in science related topics.

• Many of you have been leaders in student government or have served as editor of your school newspaper.

• There are many business entrepreneurs among you. We have a CEO and co-founder of Diligent Dog, an organization that rescues dogs and helps veterans with PTSD. One student is co-owner of Alexis’s Popcorn Stand.

• Thirty-four (34) of you have a parent who graduated from Western New England. Seventeen (17) of you have a sibling who graduated from here, and fifty-seven (57) of you have a grandparent, aunt, or uncle who earned their degree from our institution.

 These are only a few of the many highlights which make it clear that you are an accomplished, diverse, and interesting group. We believe in your promise. We are committed to you and to assisting you in every way so that you will be successful throughout your years at this University.

Welcome! On this day, Monday, August 26, of this our Centennial year 2019, I officially open Academic Year 2019-2020 at Western New England University.