Opening convocation speaker urges engagement, warns against living virtually

Centre College officially began the academic year on Sunday, Aug. 26, with its annual opening convocation.

In his convocation address, Nayef H. Samhat, president of Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., and a former Centre professor, urged students to engage directly with their world instead of giving in to the misleading promises of technology.

“While we will continue to rely on technologies for conveniences, we must step away from the illusion that those very technologies are solutions,” he said. “You need to avoid being lulled into a false sense of understanding the world through flat screens, text messages, Twitter, and Facebook.”

“The rebuilding of trust and the renewal of our institutions, our community, our country, and our world is not a virtual exercise,” he continued. “It is a cumulative exercise that requires dialogue and engagement. And by your own self-transformation over the next four years, you will have the capacity to reimagine and to contribute for our collective transformation.”

Samhat taught at Centre for 13 years, from 1996 to 2009. He was Frank B. and Virginia B. Hower Associate Professor of Government and International Studies and associate dean at the College when he was tapped to be provost and professor of political science and international studies at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, in 2009. He became Wofford’s 11th president in 2013.

A native of Detroit, he holds a B.A. in international affairs from George Washington University, an M.A. in international affairs from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in political science from Northwestern University.

During the ceremony, the 10 new members of the faculty were introduced. The College also welcomed 359 first-year students and six transfer students. The Class of 2022 is 22 percent students of color and 21 percent first generation in their families to attend college. Thirty-three percent are both. The students represent 27 states and eight foreign countries. Slightly more than half are from Kentucky.

In keeping with a longstanding tradition, the Class of 2022 selected a class motto, turning for its selection to the words of Henry Ford: “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

In presenting the motto, the Student Government Association president, Walker Morrell ’19, added his own note. The motto, he said, “accepts the reality of inadequacy and then it makes room for redemption. . . . As we enter Centre’s 200th year as an institution, let’s acknowledge our history with gratitude for our success, but also an awareness of our failures, and let’s give ourselves room for redemption.”

Founded Jan. 21, 1819, Centre will begin a year-long celebration of its bicentennial in January 2019.

Classes at Centre started Monday. Total opening day enrollment at Centre was 1,439, among the highest ever.

by Diane Johnson
August 28, 2018

By |2018-08-28T15:34:23-04:00August 28th, 2018|Convocation, News|