Freshman Convocation Welcomes Class of 2012

News Story: September 7, 2008

Members of the Class of 2012 were formally welcomed to Sacred Heart University at the annual Freshman Convocation on Wednesday, September 3. The colorful ceremony held in the William H. Pitt Health and Recreation Center was a week shy of the University’s 45th anniversary. On September 11th, 1963, Sacred Heart welcomed its first 173 students for classes. The newest cohort of first-year students numbers just under a thousand – the largest in SHU history.

At the same ceremonies, the University presented its highest accolade, an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree, to Dr. Michael W. Higgins, the president and vice-chancellor of St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Dr. Higgins is a respected Catholic scholar, the author of numerous books and articles, and a veteran essayist and commentator for Canada’s major broadcasting affiliates.

Freshman Convocation began with the traditional procession of University faculty and staff members in their distinctive academic robes. The University’s Liturgical Choir under the direction of Dr. John Michniewicz, opened with the singing of the national Anthems of the United States and Canada. This was followed by an invocation jointly offered by freshmen Edward Kennedy and Erin Burke, both of whom were recent participants in the University’s urban immersion experience, Community Connections. Senior Matthew A. Telvi, president of the Student Government Association, offered the student welcome

Dr. John Roney, associate professor of History, and Shaun Hannah, head coach of the men’s hockey team, offered greetings on behalf of the faculty and staff, respectively. Each is a native of Canada. In a longstanding tradition, Dr. Anthony J. Cernera, the president of Sacred Heart since 1988, presented Prayers from the Heart to all new students. This volume includes both familiar classics of Christian prayer and offerings by members of the University community.

The laudatio, or formal citation, for President Higgins was read by Dr. Angela DiPace, chair and associate professor of English. Dr. Higgins is a full professor of English and religious studies who is often called upon for expert commentary in the media on religious subjects. In addition to his address to the student body, he was meeting several other groups of faculty members and students during his stay at the University.

The culmination of this special assembly is always the induction by the Dean of Freshmen, Michael Bozzone, who leads the first-year students in a formal oath. In it, they pledge to make the most of their opportunities at Sacred Heart. The oath ends with a rousing promise, repeated three times: “I will learn!”

Other events officially opening the 2008-2009 academic year include the annual Mass of the Holy Spirit, to be held in the Pitt Center on Wednesday, September 10, at 2 P.M. At this service, the University invokes the blessings of God on all the members of the SHU community and on their many endeavors.

Do download a video of Dr. Higgin's Convocation speech from iTunesU, click here.