Rolling out the green carpet might be tradition, but there was nothing traditional about the President’s Convocation for First-Year Students on Sunday. 

Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones and Ohio University President Duane Nellis drove into the Convocation Center in style, riding in a golf cart that also carried Vice President for Student Affairs Jason Pina, Executive Vice President and Provost Chaden Djalali and the crowd favorite, mascot Rufus. The group karaoked to “We Are Family” as they made their entrance. 

Nellis echoed the change in ceremony in his opening statement to the first-year students. 

“This is a new beginning. This is a new chapter,” Nellis said. 

OU faculty and staff ditched the usual academic robes and stoles worn in years past to integrate themselves with students in the audience and encourage them to participate in a new, interactive question-and-answer game on the jumbotron. 

Hall-Jones instructed students to use the flashlight on their cell phones to answer each question on the screen. Questions such as “who speaks multiple languages,” “who is a first-generation student” and “who lives on South Green” all received cheers and multiple waving lights as an answer. 

The purpose of the activity, Hall-Jones said, was to make the first-year students realize they are not alone in their anxieties starting college. 

“We know everybody feels this way, everybody feels like they’re the only one,” Hall-Jones said. “That sense that you’re in this with a team, that’s the point we were trying to get across.” 

The theme of change continued with the introduction of the first-ever Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Gigi Secuban, a position created by Nellis last year. 

Secuban encouraged the students to understand the diversity of OU, citing that the student body represents 109 different countries. 

“We can learn so much from one another,” Secuban said. 

Christina Carpinelli, a freshman studying preprofessional, said she enjoyed the ceremony because it showed that the faculty are invested in their students. 

“It’s important for us to see that they care,” Carpinelli said. 

Indeed, the faculty showed encouragement and support from start to finish of the ceremony. 

“Aspire to be more than you are today,” Nellis said to first-year students. "You will be transformed. That is the promise of Ohio University.” 

@JackieOu_ohyeah

jo019315@ohio.edu

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