Lander University revived its tradition of beginning a new school year with an Opening Convocation on Monday, Sept. 9. Members of the faculty, garbed in academic regalia, paraded to seats in the Josephine B. Abney Cultural Center Auditorium for the formal assembly that was also attended by students.
In his welcoming remarks, Lander president Dr. Daniel Ball said convocation is a “calling together” of people for a special purpose that came primarily from the church, but it is now closely associated with higher education. “Our purpose is the education of our students,” he said.
Ball added, “As our world changes more rapidly than some of us feel it should, it is comforting to be a part of an old tradition, a convocation tradition that much of higher education seems to be shedding. Lander is marked by the tradition of a baccalaureate degree with integrity, and that integrity is demonstrated by quality as well as tradition. Our convocation should remind us of those.”
He thanked Dr. Lucas McMillan, associate professor of political science, Dr. Lillian Craton, assistant professor of English, and Dr. David Mash, vice president for Academic Affairs, for leading the initiative to reinstitute the convocation.
In her keynote address titled “How to College,” Dr. Craton shared three simple steps to succeed in life, both in and after college: show up, buy in and adapt. She characterized her speech as a pep talk that was meant to demystify the college experience for students. Craton is the director of Lander’s new Honors College and is the university’s 2013 Distinguished Professor.
Mash said, “The convocation will demonstrate how Lander rewards academic excellence as well as offers many opportunities for professional growth and development.” He pointed to the university’s Study Abroad Program, internships, experiential learning, the new Honors College, academic special awards and the international program with over 30 students from South Korea and China enrolled in the fall semester.
He congratulated faculty who have received tenure and were promoted in rank this fall. They include: Farha Ali, associate professor of computer science; Drs. Chris Duncan and Josie Ryan, associate professors of mathematics; Gail Moore, associate professor of accounting, and Jim Slagle, associate professor of art. In the Jackson Library, Michael Berry was promoted to associate librarian.
Tenured faculty members Drs. Carlos Mentley and Osvaldo Parilla were promoted to the rank of professors of Spanish.
Mash also mentioned the accomplishments of Lander’s faculty as teachers and scholars. He said, during the 2012-13 academic year, Lander faculty published two books, 42 articles and 12 book chapters; made 130 presentations at local, state, regional and national conferences; engaged in 68 creative activities; wrote four research reports; obtained 29 research grants, and produced two pieces of software.