New Student Convocation 2022

Remarks as prepared for delivery

Thank you, Noah. And thank you to all of this afternoon’s talented performers.

Well … does it feel great to be a Michigan Wolverine?

As you’ve heard, more than 84,000 high school seniors worldwide hoped to attend the University of Michigan this fall, and we wanted you – the most accomplished among them.

This is our day to celebrate you, our incoming class, and the talent, intellect, and aspirations you bring to our university.

It is a pleasure to welcome you, and your families, to campus. You worked extremely hard to get here, and we’re excited you are now part of our academic community.

I know you are excited, too – about setting up your room, meeting new people in your hall, navigating the campus, and planning your schedule. And I know you may be anxious about your coursework, being away from home, and finding your place at Michigan.

All of these emotions are normal.

What is not typical is the experience that awaits you as a Michigan student.

The University of Michigan will be unlike any environment you have known, from the classrooms and laboratories to the libraries, museums, and Michigan Stadium.

This is a place that will change you.

College is about ideas and viewpoints and questions, and the myriad directions they take your mind. A Michigan education is about the firing of synapses and the connections you make – in the classroom, the coffee shop, the library, and the lab. It is about endless opportunities and countless possibilities.

A Michigan education is a passport – a ticket to creative thinking, diverse perspectives, and unique personalities. Your courses will push you in intellectual directions you never imagined. The range of academic disciplines in our schools and colleges is exceptional, and the pathways they can lead to are infinite.

Learning is not a one-way street. Your professors are among the world’s best and ready to engage and inspire you. In turn, they expect you to challenge them, because they know – as well as your family and friends do – that you have strong opinions and good ideas. So never hesitate to share them.

We want you to be creative, and your professors will work with you to develop that potential. We value students who come to the classroom with initiative, innovation, and a dose of skepticism.

We expect you to work in teams, because that is the best way to find answers to the genuinely complex problems of the day. We are constantly pursuing new knowledge here and expect you to contribute to that quest. One of the reasons you are part of this community is because of what you can offer your peers, and the diversity of cultures, beliefs and interests of our student body is limitless.

And we believe in service, in making the world a better place through our decisions and actions. This is, after all, the campus where John F. Kennedy chose to announce his idea for the Peace Corps. Our faculty held the first teach-in to explain the Vietnam War. Our students launched the first Earth Day. Hundreds of volunteer activities await you, and I encourage you to step forward and make a difference.

I guarantee Michigan will transform you. You may not notice it at first, but I suspect your parents, grandparents, and other family members will. But the upcoming months and years will be unlike anything you have experienced.

I want to single out one person joining you on this journey of discovering Michigan.

Dr. Santa Ono will become the University’s 15th president on October 14. He is an accomplished scientist, musician, and university president.

I can tell you he is incredibly excited about connecting with students and faculty, and leading U-M in exciting new directions. I can also tell you that his name really is Santa, and he will want you to call him that.

So, even though you’re now starting college, it’s still OK to believe in Santa. He’s going to be an engaging and energetic leader and, like you, he’s ready to be a Wolverine.

Whether you are President Ono, a first-year student in Bursley, or a transfer student about to experience Michigan, we have so much to show you.

Hundreds of thousands have embarked on this academic journey. Michigan students through the generations have come to campus full of enthusiasm, apprehension, confidence, and questions. Some have famous names, such as Gerald Ford, Lucy Liu, Darren Criss, James Earl Jones, and Sanjay Gupta. Other alumni have notable accomplishments, such as co-founding Google, establishing JetBlue, and writing “The Polar Express.” And some are in a league of their own, like Tom Brady with his seven Super Bowl rings.

All are part of the Michigan legacy you are about to experience and shape. We are known for our learning communities, research programs for undergraduates, and intimate seminars for first-year students. We are proud of our commitment to public service. And we celebrate our remarkable students – students like you, who are ready to explore the world while discovering yourselves.

Welcome to Michigan, and Go Blue!