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Convocation Ceremony Rings In New Academic Year

Convocation 2023 - student holding paws up shirt in front of Tents for Convocation ceremony


Students, faculty, and staff gathered outside the Sports Science and Athletics Pavilion (SSAP) on Wednesday, August 23 to celebrate the beginning of the fall semester together at Convocation. This is the first time University of La Verne President Pardis Mahdavi addressed the community at-large. 

New and returning students gathered in the university quad together, picked up their “paws up!” tee shirts, and said hello to their fellow Leopards along the way. They then joined into the processional behind university leaders, who were dressed in full academic regalia, and entered the SSAP. 

Bruce Walton, professor of business, initiated the processional carrying the university mace. Chaplain Zandra Wagoner delivered an invocation on themes of spiritual openness, acceptance, and community to help welcome in the new year. Provost Roy Kwon led the ceremony and acknowledged each speaker as they came to the podium. 

This year’s Excellence in Teaching Award faculty recipient is Professor of Marketing Astrid Keel and she gave a warm opening address to the crowd. She teaches marketing research and analytics, digital marketing, and marketing principles at the university. Her research specializes in celebrity endorsements, chief marketing officer efficacy, and marketing and finance interfaces. 

Keel shared how the best parts of one’s education happen when one goes outside of their realm of study and joins clubs and organizations that are, “outside of the comfort zone.” 

“Some of your most memorable moments at La Verne may not be measured by what we call traditional metrics of success, like an A plus,” Keel said. She added that this extracurricular involvement will help students “discover more about the world or about yourself.”  

President Pardis Mahdavi then took the stage, after an introduction from Chairman of the Board of Trustees Anthony Revier ’93, and shared a powerful message: “own your narrative.” 

“You matter. Your story is valuable and most importantly, the University of La Verne is a better place because of all of you,” Mahdavi said. She was met with a standing ovation by the crowd.

Music was sung by Taylor Murphy ’24, including the university’s alma mater, to round out the event to its conclusion, where first-year biology students Felicity Parker ’27 and Emma Perez ’27 rang the spirit bell.

This new academic year will continue with an assortment of events, including the President’s Inauguration on October 13 and Homecoming and Family Weekend from October 14 through 15. To learn more about homecoming events, please visit