University Convocation welcomes new students, new year

President Sidney A. McPhee addresses students and guests at the University's annual Convocation.

Photo by Evan Dunne, Staff Writer 

MTSU students, faculty and staff began the Fall 2016 semester Sunday afternoon in the Murphy Center with University Convocation, a welcoming to incoming freshman and transfer students to the “true blue” community.

“All of what you are about to see is for you, the newest members of the academic community that is MTSU,” said Vice President of Student Affairs Debra Sells to new students in the audience.

Throughout the banquet, members of the campus community offered words of encouragement and advice to the new students, their families and friends. Before Sells stepped down from the podium, she took a moment to recognize the Buchanan Scholars, the Honors Transfer Fellows, and members of Fraternity and Sorority Life as well as MTSU student leaders and student athletes.

Following Sells’ introduction and the procession of faculty and professors, University President Sidney A. McPhee expressed his thoughts to the vast crowd of students and guests.

“In many ways, today is our University’s New Year’s Eve,” McPhee said.

He told the audience that this upcoming academic year would celebrate the 105th anniversary of the school and went on to ask the new freshman and transfer students to rise as he offered them a “true blue welcome.”

McPhee then introduced Dr. Mary Martin, the current President of MTSU’s Faculty Senate. Martin addressed the new students by encouraging them to think of three distinct reasons why they were at MTSU.

“Now, I would like to suggest that there might be one more reason to add to your list,” Martin said. “You are here to change your intellect.”

Martin explained to the students that though they would read new books, acquire new skills and explore new ideas in college, their most important intellectual growth would revolve around learning new ways to address life’s challenges.

Student Government President Madison Tracy served as the penultimate speaker. She offered the students three pieces of personal advice: Find your purpose and run with it, step out of your comfort zone to seek opportunities to expand your horizon and don’t wish away the time. The rising senior reminisced on her experience at Convocation three years prior and imparted her own sentiment before the keynote speaker for the evening took his place at the podium.

Rajiv Chandrasekaran, the author of MTSU’s summer reading book “For Love of Country,” offered the audience stories from his books to reflect upon. Chandrasekaran spoke on the veterans he honored in “For Love of Country.”

“We need to work together to build a society that is worthy of their sacrifice and their service,” Chandrasekaran said.

Through his stories and speech, Chandrasekaran conveyed the importance of being an “upstander” rather than a bystander to new and current members of the MTSU community.

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To contact News Editor Amanda Freuler, email

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