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University Rings in 125th Anniversary With Convocation

With flags waving and music soaring, a class of eager new students became part of a grand tradition on Aug. 31 as the University of La Verne welcomed the start of its 125th year with Convocation and related celebrations.

Hundreds of guests from across the university, the city and the community joined the students inside the Sports Science & Athletics Pavilion, reflecting on the achievements of the past and preparing to meet the promise of the future.

“Leos, students, University of La Verne community, it is our 125th anniversary and this is your year,” University of La Verne President Devorah Lieberman said. “Let’s all make it filled with purpose. Let’s live our mission. Congratulations on starting a brand new year.”

The university’s 125th anniversary celebration will continue throughout the academic year with a wide-ranging series of events, including homecoming and reunions on Oct. 14-16, concerts and galas.

Festivities began just before convocation, when the university community, city leaders and others gathered in front of Founders Hall for the unveiling of a bronze plaque commemorating the anniversary. The plaque sits at the front of a new landscaped knoll with plants arranged in the shape of the university’s founding year, 1891. The unveiling included remarks by President Lieberman, La Verne Mayor Don Kendrick and Professor of Management Dr. Issam Ghazzawi.

“We have to reflect on our past to know where we are going. Happy birthday to the University of La Verne,” Ghazzawi told the crowd.

From there, the Garey High School marching band led new and returning students, faculty and staff into the Sports Science & Athletics Pavilion for the Convocation ceremony. Trustee Anthony Revier ’93, introduced keynote speaker Dr. Ahmed Ispahani, the Searing Family Professor of Business Administration & Economics, calling Ispahani a “mentor” and an “inspiration.”

Ispahani urged students to enter their college years with open minds.

“Our students, you are the most important part of our university. Without you, we would not be here,” he said.

After the ceremony, the crowd spilled into a block party and club fair that stretched from Sneaky Park to the University Quad. The messages of the morning continued to resonate with students as they collected swag and learned about campus clubs and organizations.

Freshman business major John Seja said starting at the university on an anniversary year has given him extra motivation.

“Being able to start at the 125th anniversary of La Verne is special because no one else but the class of 2020 can say they started at such an amazing milestone,” he said.

Senior criminology major Ebony Fredieu also felt connected to the university’s history.

“I get to be part of the legacy of La Verne as well as leave my own legacy with my club, Shades of Essence,” Fredieu said.

Meanwhile, Jarret Mason, a senior kinesiology major and member of the Multicultural Club Council, wasn’t reflecting on the past. He’s ready for what’s next.

“I see how open and accepting La Verne has been to me and I cannot wait to see how they find new ways to embrace people’s cultures in the years to come,” he said.

Rochelle Munoz contributed to this story.