New Student Convocation: “It Starts with U”
Aug. 28, 2008
You, the students of the Class of 2012, are sitting in a very popular space.
Over the years, great athletes have competed in this arena and important speakers have delivered their messages. John Lennon once performed here, as have Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder and REM.
Every year, Crisler Arena hosts dozens of basketball games and thousands of maize-and-blue fans. Twice a year it is home to graduation ceremonies. Last April, the Dalai Lama gathered here for a weekend of teaching and meditating.
But we reserve one special night each year to celebrating you, our incoming class, and the talent and intellect you bring to our university. It is a pleasure to welcome you, and your families, to the University of Michigan.
Ours is a great university for many reasons: our faculty are among the best in the world, our research and medical care change lives, and our students are committed to their education and engaged with the world around them. It is now your turn to continue this tradition and get involved in your university.
So where to begin? With your class work, of course, because academics come first at Michigan. We value students who come to the classroom with initiative, creativity, and a dose of skepticism. Challenge your professors – I guarantee they will love it. And know that when they provide you with office hours, telephone numbers, and email addresses, they really do want to help make you a stronger student and a better-informed person.
As a U-M student you will be asked to open your mind and consider new ideas and radical theories. We are constantly in pursuit of new knowledge here, and you are expected to contribute to that quest. And one of the most important tools we provide you for that journey is a library system regarded as among the best in the world.
We have some 8 million volumes that can be found at 10 locations across campus. We are particularly excited about improvements at the Shapiro Undergraduate Library, where you will find a café with espresso and lattes, lots of space for study and collaboration, and an extensive menu of resources to support your research and writing.
Our librarians are always ready to help you, whether you visit in person or contact them through instant messaging, live chats, emails or your cell phone.
Of course, scholarship at Michigan extends well beyond the classroom, laboratory and library. Learning is seamless on our campus, where you will find exceptional museums, galleries, performance halls and outdoor spaces to complement your lectures, books and experiments.
Most importantly, you are going to learn as much from your fellow students as from your professors. One of the reasons you are part of this university is because of what you can offer your peers, and the diversity of cultures, beliefs and interests of our student body is limitless. To see what your classmates can offer you, attend Festifall next Thursday on the Diag and learn about the hundreds of student groups we have. Or sample the food and entertainment at the Trotter Center’s “Taste of Culture” event on Sept. 14.
Or come by my house, where we can meet and you can also meet students from throughout the University. I’m hosting an open house a week from today – from 3:30 to 5 in the afternoon – at my home on South University Avenue, and I would love to meet you and hear about your plans.
Now, with all this activity, you are going to be very, very busy. I know you are eager to establish yourself and your independence, which is so much a part of the college experience. But your family has contributed to the success that brought you to Michigan, so please remember them. Phone home every now and then – and not only when you need money! – and tell them about your new life at U-M.
Learning, interacting, and communicating – it all starts with you. You are now Michigan students and members of one of the greatest academic communities in the world. We’re thrilled you are here, and we await your ideas, your enthusiasm and your many different voices.
Welcome again, and Go Blue!