On September 20th at 3:00 pm, the carillion bells of Storke tower chimed a celebratory call to some 5,000 freshmen and transfer students to gather at the Faculty Club green for Convocation, their ceremonial induction into the University of California, Santa Barbara. This was the campus’s tenth Convocation ceremony, which promotes the values of scholarship, leadership, and citizenship, and gives students a “heads up” about what they can expect, and what is expected of them, while they are at UCSB. The class includes students from the College of Letters and Science, the College of Engineering, and the College of Creative Studies.
Nearly 50 members of the faculty paraded in academic regalia down the hilly path as Mary Nisbet, Acting Dean of Undergraduate Education of the College of Letters and Science, announced their arrival, beginning with Chancellor Henry Yang, Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Michael Young, and College of Letters and Science Executive Dean David Marshall.
Once the stage was filled, the students rose to their feet as Brothas From Otha Mothas, an all-male, student acappella ensemble, sang the National Anthem.
The speakers offered advice, suggestions, and stories of their own experiences to the latest cohort of students to enter the university. Dean Marshall, who presided over the ceremony, spoke of the community of scholarship and encouraged students to work with professors and collaborate with their peers. Chancellor Yang talked about the excitement of the previous weekend, when he and his wife Dilling,helped freshman students move into their dorms. Chancellor and Mrs. Yang live on campus and are the students' neighbors, and he asked them to try and keep the noise down! Chancellor Yang, who is also professor of mechanical engineering, finds the time each year to teach a freshman class in that subject, and he was exited about the start of the quarter.
The highlight of the afternoon was the address by the keynote speaker, Kip Fulbeck. A professor of art and American artist, slam poet, and filmmaker, Kip is the author of Part Asian, 100% Hapa; Permanence: Tattoo Portraits by Kip Fulbeck; Paper Bullets: A Fictional Autobiography; and the recently released Mixed: Portraits of Multiracial Kids. Kip has performed and exhibited throughout the U.S. and in over 20 countries. The tattooed professor, sans regalia in a dress shirt and jeans, greeted the students, pulled out an iPod and began to play one of his performance pieces about race and identity. He read one of his poems and a list of suggestions focusing on personal growth as he challenged the new students to make a change in the world, environmentally, culturally, and politically. His humor and encouraging perspective won him cheers from the audience.
Paul Monge-Rodriguez, president of Associated Students, also challenged the new students to get involved and make a lasting contribution to UCSB. He told them to persevere in the face of being told 'no', citing as an example his own background as a child of immigrants and first-generation college student who is now a McNair Scholar and a policy and international affairs fellow.
Michael Young, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, closed out the afternoon, making clear UCSB’s expectations for these new students and the necessity for places like the university where ideas can be safely expressed and challenged. He sternly placed the responsibility of maintaining that safety in the hands of those before him, and a somber quiet fell across the faculty green for a few moments until the faculty began their parade away from the stage. Another academic year had begun, and the members of class of 2014, plus the transfer students of the class of 2012, dispersed to begin their UCSB careers.