Office of the President
4200 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33711
local: (727) 864-8211
toll-free: (800) 456-9009
fax: (727) 864-1877
Suzan Harrison, Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty
On behalf of Eckerd College, it is my great pleasure and privilege to welcome the Class of 2016. We extend that welcome as well to our transfer students who join the Classes of 2014 and 2015. This ceremony marks the beginning of our work together. Your many talents and a great deal of hard work have carried you far on your journey toward Eckerd College.
I also wish to welcome and recognize those who accompany you: parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, other relatives, and friends. The support of your families and friends helped you along your way here, and through you, they have also become members of the Eckerd College community.
I know you've had a busy, slightly warm day of standing in lines, moving into dorm rooms, setting up computers, learning to navigate the campus. Each year at the Ceremony of Lights, I try to imagine what it must be like from the perspective of new students and guests, after the day you've had, to enter this ceremony in which you are greeted by bagpipes and a full-dress academic procession. It must feel somewhat surrealistic. But that juxtaposition, unexpected as it may be, captures something profound about the work we will undertake together here.
Set in the lush, tropical landscape of the Eckerd campus, using up-to-the-minute technology, advanced scientific instruments, contemporary teaching methods, what we do here still hearkens back to the earliest colleges and universities, symbolized by the College's mace, carried by Dean Sanfilippo at the head of the procession and described in your program, and by our academic regalia, these robes and colorful hoods (which, may I add, were originally designed for northern European climates).
The term university comes from a Latin phrase referring to a community of teachers and scholars. Although the setting and the technology have changed, our purpose, our very reason for being, reaches back to that ideal of a community of teachers and students sharing in conversation about ideas, in research, whether in the field, the laboratory, or the library, in artistic creation. We are delighted to have you join us in shared endeavors, and we hope that what you learn with us will serve you for a lifetime, and serve you well.
This ceremony invites you to step back from today's hectic and exciting activity and to contemplate this moment's significance in your lives. Like many ceremonies, it marks the end of one journey and the beginning of another. Tonight, we welcome you to a grand adventure and look forward to the ways it will transform you and the ways you will transform us.