More Than 700 Students Welcomed as Members of Mount Union’s Class of 2020

August 22, 2016

Signing Matriculation Book 2016ALLIANCE, Ohio – The University of Mount Union officially welcomed its newest class of students during the annual Matriculation Convocation ceremony held Sunday afternoon.

The Class of 2020 ushered in the academic year with a ceremony held in the Peterson Field House of the McPherson Academic and Athletic Complex, the same venue in which those same students could receive their degrees four years from now. Dr. Patricia Draves, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the University, welcomed the new students –approximately 710 in total. Draves encouraged students to make connections with faculty, among different classes, outside and inside the classroom and with members of the Mount Union community.

“Making connections takes work and will require your full focus and dedication,” Draves said. “You have four short years here so make the most of it. Challenge yourself, challenge one another and yes, be sure to challenge your professors.”

Entering his second academic year as University President, Dr. Dick Merriman spoke to the students about why the uniqueness of the incoming class is important to the University.

“Some of you are extroverted, confident and energized in social situations,” Merimman said. “Others of you are quieter, more likely to think twice before speaking up, and a little slower to reveal yourself to others. Some of you were hyper-involved students in high school.  Others were more focused in terms of your involvement. You bring to the University multiplicity, complexity, difference.”

Merriman said the Class of 2020 comes from Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia. In addition, international students represent Japan, Germany, Saudi Arabia, France, China, Spain, United Kingdom and Vietnam.

“The people seated with you today have great value, in our eyes, just as you do,” Merriman said. “I hope you will see, in the varied backgrounds and experiences of your classmates, and in the diverse people who work at the University, a great opportunity to learn about and appreciate people who are different from you.”

Dr. Grant Cook III, professor of music, director of choral activities and the 2016 Great Teacher, shared words of wisdom with the incoming class. His speech titled, “On Building a Beautiful Life”, Cook spoke about how he too, was not sure of the direction he was going when he entered college, but getting involved opened his eyes to what he was truly passionate about.

He spoke of his journey from high school in western New York to his undergraduate career at Heidelberg University as a football recruit. He joked that he was not recruited by athletic director Larry Kehres, then offensive coordinator for the Purple Raider football team, and was gaining the courage to approach him about this now that he has tenure as a faculty member.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to let it be known publically that I still have four years of eligibility remaining and that I am ready and willing to contribute to a future championship run, if need be,” he joked.

As a member of the pre-engineering program, Cook was sure of the direction he was going to take once on campus until he decided to audition for the Heidelberg Concert Choir.

“As part of the college’s liberal arts curriculum, however, I was required to complete coursework in the fine and performing arts and, consequently, decided to audition for the Concert Choir in order to “check off” this requirement,” Cook said. “I had always enjoyed singing, but, beyond the occasional school or community musical theater production, had few opportunities for organized music making. In the end, singing in the Heidelberg Concert Choir changed my life in ways that are unexplainable and unnamable; in short, choral music became my gateway to a beautiful life.”

Cook also urged the members of the Mount Union faculty and staff to help students not only achieve academic success, but to help serve them to “think well” and help students become heart intelligent.

“Students of the class of 2020, given the urgency of this message, it is imperative that you leave Mount Union not only armed with the requisite information and skills for your chosen profession, but with a humanity that is beautiful enough and bold enough to help stem the tide of this terrible crisis,” he said.

Mount Union senior Caitie Shimp, a senior of Hartville, Ohio and president of Student Senate, told freshmen that the friends they make this year will be friends they carry into the rest of their lives and the memories they make on campus will be remembered for a lifetime.

“Find who you are, “ Shimp said. “You can be whoever you want to be. This was a challenge for me and you should know that it does not happen overnight. I came to realize that it’s not about proving yourself to others or proving them wrong, but it is about proving yourself to you. Remember that.”

Alumni Association representative Bill Schumacher ’82 encouraged students to be involved on campus, both while a student and after graduation.

“I know it’s hard to think a few years down the road to the day you will graduate and all that will come after, but I encourage you to make meaningful connections now that will benefit you long into your futures,” Schumacher said.

After learning about the significance of the Matriculation ceremony from Draves, students had an opportunity to sign the Matriculation Book. Signing the book is a pledge that students will dedicate their efforts and talents to excellence in liberal learning and career preparation. The book, which remains in the care of the Office of the President until graduation, will be on display in the University Store during graduation week in 2020 for students to see.

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