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Missed Convocation? It's All Right Here

October 09, 2014

Convocation 2014

The University community ushered in a new academic year at the 2014 Convocation ceremony on Oct. 7, 2014, with keynote speaker Paula Marantz Cohen, PhD, Distinguished Professor of English and dean of the Pennoni Honors College. View the ceremony in its entirety on YouTube by clicking here.

The ceremony’s Invocation was given by Rabbi Isabel de Koninck of the Drexel University Interfaith Council, followed by a welcome from Interim Provost James Herbert, who commented on a number of initiatives he is working toward collaboratively. He also spoke to the ceremony’s theme: the faculty.

“It’s fitting that this year’s Convocation celebrates the faculty. We the faculty — and yes, I still count myself as among our ranks — are the heart of the University. No initiative can be successful without the commitment of the faculty — and that includes the entire faculty: tenured, tenure-track, teaching, clinical, research and adjunct. The Drexel faculty is characterized by a unique blend of creativity, entrepreneurial spirit, collegiality, willingness to cross disciplinary silos, and sheer work ethic that I am convinced does not exist elsewhere.”

Read Herbert's entire speech here.

After greetings from Board of Trustees Chair Richard Greenawalt, President John Fry welcomed those in attendance to a new year of promise.

Today, he said, "we celebrate our students, including those who have just arrived at Drexel. Each year our student body becomes more academically talented overall, more creative and entrepreneurial and more committed to serving our neighbors. We also celebrate the professional staff that supports our academic programs and administrative operations. Their hard work and sincere commitment on a day-to-day basis are the source of much of Drexel’s energy. And in particular this year, we celebrate the unique talents, the innovative spirit and the true excellence of our faculty. Our professors are the core of our identity as a great research university. Their achievements drive Drexel’s reputation, and help generations of students pursue knowledge and success."

You can read President Fry's full speech here.

President Fry then introduced Paula Cohen, who reflected on her 32-year career at Drexel and her experience with “the craft of teaching.” She spoke of her favorite style of teaching, which she described as the “sublime conversation.”

“My notion of a sublime conversation in a classroom…refers to a rhetorical engagement that is of the most elevated, inspired and organic kind,” Cohen said. “In this sort of class, ideas flow freely and seemingly spontaneously, as learning takes a new form and moves to a higher level. The teacher is there, nominally directing the conversation, but really having faded from view, or having become one of many voices, as everyone participates in the acquisition of knowledge. The feeling in such a class is buoyant, exhilarating in a way, hard to explain after the fact.”

Read Cohen’s entire speech here.

The ceremony was dotted with performances by the Drexel University Chorus and organist Jonathan M. Bowen, who has played with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Remarks and greetings were shared by Faculty Senate Chair Ludo C.P. Scheffer; Ira D. Taffer, member of the Board of Governors and the Board of Trustees and chair of Drexel’s Alumni Association; Kevin Murray, vice president of the Undergraduate Student Government Association; and Nicholas Thompson, president of Graduate Student Government Association.

This year’s Convocation ceremony concluded with the naming of new faculty and the group performance of “Hail! Drexel Institute (The Ode).” The words to the song, written by Walter Henneberg with music by James M. Dickinson, are as follows:

Hail Drexel, Hail to thee / Accept our Praise,

To thee a joyful song / Thy children raise.

Thou to their watching eyes / Art guiding star,

Bright with illuming rays / Shining afar.

Under thy watchful care / Within thy walls,

To tasks of mind and hand / Heed we thy calls.

Radiant in beauty new / Thy flag we view;

Symbol of worth thy gold / Of truth thy blue.

Drexel to thee our love / Through hopes and fears,

Thy sons and daughters pledge / Throughout the years.

Now as the music swells / Accept our lay.

Hail Drexel Hail to thee / Hail happy day.