Each year, as the warm summer days slowly fade away, both familiar and new faces begin to occupy the campuses of Kansas State University. The start of a new semester is a breath of fresh air for both faculty and students alike. It is also a monumental moment as new students embark on their scholarly journey and join the university family.
A sense of excitement and enthusiasm fills the air as new students foresee the opportunities that lie on the horizon. During the 2016 New Student Convocation event, Gregory Eiselein, Donnelly Professor of English and University Distinguished Teaching Scholar, shared about the unique opportunity students embark upon as they begin their college endeavors. "I can think of few other moments in life that are like this moment, like the start of college. When you are given such an amazing opportunity to make yourself into the person you want to be."
Then and Now: (above) President James Allen McCain delivers his annual Convocation address to students and their parents at Memorial Stadium in 1962. This photo appears in the Royal Purple Yearbook.
At the beginning of each school year, thousands of students, faculty, staff and administrators gather together at the New Student Convocation event. It is an opportunity to formally welcome first year students to the university and provide an introduction to the campus community. Although this particular event began as an initiative within K-State 2025 and its commitment to the undergraduate experience, the inaugural Convocation in 2013 was actually a revival of a tradition that can be traced back to the 1950s and the presidency of James Allen McCain. Each year, first-year students and their parents were greeted and addressed by the president, who extended a welcome and issued a charge to the students for the upcoming academic term. Though students join the fabric of the broader university community, each has arrived with their individual story and journey — a journey that, through hard work, commitment, and support, will continue to the graduation stage.
Then and Now: (above) The platform committee of faculty, staff, administrators, and students look out at the incoming class of K-Staters at 2015's Student Convocation ceremony.
Steven Dandaneau, vice provost for undergraduate studies, vividly recalls the sense of pride he felt when he first stepped foot onto his alma mater. "As a first-generation student, I had never stepped foot onto a college campus until the day that I enrolled," Dandaneau said. Knowing what to expect from university life can be challenging for all first year students, especially those who are the first in their family to attend college. "Many students get into the experience and the fun of it all, which is important, but it's also important not to forget the utter gravity and seriousness of what's at stake," said Dandanaeu, recognizing the personal and financial investment that comes with earning a degree. He hopes the student convocation can help shed light on the importance of entering into the scholarly life with the ultimate goal of graduating. "College is a serious endeavor," Dandaneau said, "it will be challenging, but we're in this together."
This year's convocation emphasized practicality and the importance of students availing themselves to the array of financial and academic resources at K-State, such as Powercat Financial Counseling, SALT, free tutoring resources and access to the K-State Writing Center, just to name a few. Through a charge from Jodi Kaus, director of Powercat Financial Counseling, as well as the opportunity to hear from current students and alumni, first-year students heard the collective voice of a university community that cares and is focused on helping them achieve their goals.
Kansas State's rich tradition of supporting students is rooted in its land-grant mission, and it is a common thread that can be traced back throughout its history. As part of K-State 2025, a number of key initiatives have taken shape to better serve students from orientation through graduation, including several new programs to support first-year and first-generation students. Though this progress is reflected through a growth in freshman-to-sophomore retention (jpg) and graduation rates, the numbers can only tell part of the story. Each day, all across the university, new stories are written and shaped by the students, faculty and staff of K-State. Rooted in history, united through shared values, and guided by a common vision, Kansas State University will continue to grow and advance along its path to 2025 and beyond, one story at a time.