Published Monday, Aug. 19, 2013

Welcome to Washburn: “Today and forever you are an Ichabod”

Students walking out of convocation through the tunnel of faculty members in academic robesConvocation is the official welcome to scholarly life at Washburn University. Held annually on the first day of class, it sets the tone for both the school year and the entire academic career at Washburn for new and transferring students.   

To the Class of 2017 and others gathered Monday afternoon at White Concert Hall, Shelbie Konkel said, “You’re courageous and enthusiastic,” as Bradbury Thompson said of the image of Ichabod he created in the 1930s. The Washburn Student Government Association president continued, “Today, and forever, you are an Ichabod.”

With that new identity comes new responsibility, Washburn President Jerry Farley told the students.

“There’s not going to be anyone who tells you to get up out of bed and go to class. No one is going to tell you to turn the lights out. No one is going to tell you to study. No one will do that except for you,” he said. “This is the time that you mold and shape who you are an what you think.”

Tony Silvestri, lecturer, history, who represented the faculty as a speaker Monday, shared experiences from his own first days of college.

“I had a mission to be curious. To be someone new,” he said. “I didn’t want to fall into an old high school pattern in a new place.”

So he found the two women, roommates, on his residence hall floor most different from himself and said hello.

“I was convinced they were real, live witches,” he said, getting a laugh from the crowd. They are still friends today.  “Transcend your prejudices. You’re here at Washburn to open your mind, to become a whole person.”

Monday’s event featured the third installment of four history videos created to educate students, alumni and the public about Washburn from its founding to the present in celebration of the university's sesquicentennial in 2015. The video shown Monday included history from the just before the June 8, 1966 tornado through 1990. (You can watch all three videos online.)

Students walked into and out of the hall through a tunnel of faculty members in their academic robes. Meant to signify the beginning of the students' scholarly pursuits, the tunnel is modeled after the one graduates walk through in their own academic robes on commencement day.

Farlely reminded the students to take seriously the opportunity before them.

“You have talent. You have capability. And now you have opportunity. Please, take advantage of that opportunity and it will pay you back forever.”