St. Mary's College of Maryland, The Public Honors College

Opening Convocation Remarks 2013


Orientation co-chairs with the head of residence life, the Dean of Students, and the Interim President

Beth Rushing

My role this morning is to make introductions.

St. Mary’s faculty, here are our new students.

Here’s what I know about them.

They are from 6 countries, 15 states plus DC. Most are from Maryland.

Longest distance from home: a student from Beijing (about 7000 miles)

Shortest distance: one student from Park Hall (3 miles) AKA home of the Green Door

Least likely to have trouble finding a ride home for the holidays: 34 students from Baltimore (and many more from the surrounding area)

Oldest new student is 51; the youngest is 16 – and there are 3 students who are 16.

2 students have birthdays today – ponding is in their future

Their fabulous Orientation Leaders are going to make sure they learn the true wonders of the seven wonders.

But most importantly, this class of students is smart, curious, and enthusiastic about being at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

Faculty, say hi to our new students. 

Now students, let me introduce you to your faculty.

Almost all of them have doctoral degrees in their fields – they have considerable experience on both sides of the desk.

They are specialists in many things: Japanese theatre, the archeology of the Chesapeake, Spanish poetry, the New Deal, schizophrenia, and intestinal flora (or, the bacteria in poop).

They create games, shoot video, conduct music, program computers, write books, and translate texts.

They think big thoughts and create interesting things.

They travel the world to conduct research and to teach, and this will become apparent in the courses you take with them.

They are smart and dedicated teachers. For the past couple of weeks, they have been gathering to teach each other new ideas for how to do even better at helping you learn.

They are very good teachers, and you’ll see that for yourself, soon.

They are originally from many places – China, Ohio, Pakistan, Maryland, California, Canada, and Iowa. Now they are from here.

I can’t tell you how old they are, except that most of them are older than most of you.

They’ve been teaching at St. Mary’s from zero weeks to a few decades. Nineteen of them are new to campus, like you are. All of them are pleased you are here.

You’ll have opportunities today to start to get to know one another. And you will come to know at least some of them very, very well as you take multiple classes with them, spend time together in studios or labs, travel abroad together, and collaborate on research projects.

It’s hard to see this now, but in four years, you will have a whole new perspective on this group of people.

They should be known as the eighth wonder of St. Marys --

Students, say hi to your faculty.

There’s a St. Mary’s tradition at graduation – the gauntlet. Now, “running the gauntlet” is an historic military practice of punishment, whereby the person being punished runs through two rows of soldiers, who hit them with sticks.

Before you reconsider your decision to join us here, let me assure you that we don’t hit recent graduates with sticks.

OUR gauntlet involves two lines of professors, and the fresh graduates leave the ceremony by walking through the two lines of professors, being congratulated by all of them. There are handshakes, hugs, huge smiles, and quite a few tears.

To me, the gauntlet at our commencement ceremony represents the core of what is truly excellent about this place: the relationship between students and faculty.

Today’s convocation brings a new cohort of St. Mary’s students together with the faculty. Your interactions in the coming months and years will shape who you are and what you become.

I urge you to make the most of it.

Have a terrific year.

Beth Rushing
Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty