Why are we here? Why are we here on this cloudy day, in this hot gymnasium? With fanfare and costumes?

We are here, because each year at Hobart and William Smith Colleges we ritually open our academic year with convocation -- con vocare, a calling our selves together. We call ourselves into being as a new community beginning a new venture, a new year.

We call our selves together after some time apart, welcoming back into the fold those who have been abroad, those who have been on sabbatical, those who have taken leave for the summer.

We gather for several reasons. We gather to recall who we are by remembering who we have been. We call on the names of our founders: John Henry Hobart and William Smith.
We call on the spirits of all those who have gone before us in these halls and retell the stories of our origins.

And we pause to remember our high calling, the vocation of higher education:
our charge to critique and to create.

Finally, we have the audacity to call ourselves
into the future; to live as if we know that we already are what we hope to be:
an excellent, student centered, community of teaching and learning.
A community which values equity and service to others.
A community with global and environmental awareness.
A community that develops leaders for this 21st century.

So in this spirit of calling together
I invite you to join me in calling on those who came before us, our ancestors in this place:
faculty and students
alums and trustees, (listen to their stories)
administrative and clerical staff, (listen to their stories)
maintenance and grounds crews
food service and security personnel
neighbors and other friends. (They all have stories to tell.)
Let us call on these ancestors to be with us as we enter this new year.
Let us to hear their stories,
so that we may understand our story.

In the spirit of calling together
Let us call this community of Hobart and William Smith 2002-2003 into being.
Let us welcome with applause the classes of 2006. (Remember to ask them to tell us their stories.)
Let us welcome back all those who have been apart from us. (Remember to ask them to tell us their stories, to show us their photographs.)

In the spirit of calling together
Let us call ourselves back
Recall why it is you are here. (What is your story?)
Reclaim your vocation. (How will your story read when it is done?)

In the spirit of calling together, let us convoke this new academic year,
that together we might be and know that we are
a community worthy of our calling.

And now it is my privilege to introduce to you one of my higher powers, the president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Mark Gearan.

Author of peace and Lover of concord,
Bless our community with open doors
open hands
open minds;
that we might be and know that we are
a community of welcome, service and intellectual inquiry.

Bless us with open hearts,
that we might be and know that we are
a community committed
(as is Judge Stern)
to justice and care for the future.

And now, send us out to meet this new academic year
with joy and celebration;
ready to try something new,
ready to be the story.



Opening and Benediction, Convocation 2002, Chaplain Lesley Adams

September 3, 2002