The University’s 121st convocation marked the beginning of the new academic year and promised optimism and future stability for students, faculty and staff.
The program, held Aug. 30 in the Sports Science and Athletics Pavilion, was the first convocation to be streamed online.
“Convocation serves as a moment of reflection of the past, aspirations for the future, and an assessment of the current stage of the University,” President Devorah Lieberman said.
“It is an important moment in our time together.”
Lieberman acted as moderator for the event, giving her own speech that updated the audience on the campus’s progress since her inauguration in 2011.
“(Convocation) is a celebration that marks the beginning of the academic year,” Lieberman said. “Today is about our community and it is about the beginning.”
University Chaplain Zandra Wagoner and undergraduate students Daisy Aldana, Rasha Dubuni, Tiffany Koval, Tahil Sharma and Caleb Ulrich led a prayer.
The prayer celebrated the diverse religious and philosophical beliefs among campus, including Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism and other spiritual views.
“What we share today is a collective vision of a diverse, inclusive and peaceful community,” Wagoner said.
Provost Greg Dewey’s “Our Moment” speech gave hope to the audience during tough economic times.
“The picture of La Verne has been very positive over the past two years,” Dewey said.
“As we as an institution position ourselves for continued success and a healthy future, let me assert that there are two prerequisites for success: student engagement and faculty development.”
Dewey said that the University’s strong infrastructure has promised financial stability, with the recent projects being the reason, such as the opening of Vista La Verne, the renovations to Ortmayer Stadium, the expansion of Davenport and the planned expansion of the athletic fields on campus west.
“We are the most effective in enrollment management, marketing our school better, and raising public awareness of who we are,” Dewey said.
The most endearing moment came from Associate Professor of Management Kathy Duncan’s speech, “The Heart of a Leo,” in which she shared personal hardships with the audience.
“To me, the three most important characteristics of the heart of a Leo are resilience, authenticity and serving others,” Duncan said.
“When something goes wrong, you bounce back. It doesn’t mean you’re not affected by it, but it means you learn from it and get stronger from it,” Duncan said.
She encouraged students to find meaning in adversity and to step up as leaders in giving back to friends, family and faith.
She continued on to quote pop star Lady Gaga’s song “Born This Way,” encouraging students to be true to themselves.
ASULV President Ava Jahanvash led the incoming students through the new student honor pledge as Lieberman ended convocation.
“Always remember, at the University of La Verne you will exceed all your expectations and you will have achieved more than you had ever imagined,” Lieberman said.
Robert Penalber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.