Maryville College livestreams the 2020-2021 Convocation ceremony.

On August 20, 2020, Maryville College began the academic school year with the annual Convocation ceremony. Convocation this year was held virtually in order to uphold social distancing guidelines due to COVID-19. 

Despite being on video, the ceremony still fulfilled its role— to deliver an uplifting message and signify the beginning of the academic year for students and faculty.

Convocation opened with the academic procession performed on the bagpipes by Andrew K. Kerr. 

While the bagpipes played, images of Maryville College faculty holding signs welcoming students with encouraging words appeared on screen. 

This year’s prayer of invocation was delivered by senior history major, Eleanor Forester.

Dr. Jenifer Greene, professor of management and chair of faculty delivered the welcome speech. 

“This has indeed been a year,” Greene said. “However, we are now here on our beautiful MC campus… We can grow… We can learn new and exciting ideas. We can share together the bright new future that’s just around the corner.” 

Greene encouraged those watching to focus on the “cans” of the year and to “run with them and along the way take care of yourself, take care of others and may God bless and keep us.”

Following Greene’s welcome, Maryville College student body president, junior and political science major Haley Davis delivered the statement of purpose for the academic year. 

“The college believes it must listen attentively and humbly to all human voices, so it may hear the call of God no matter how God may speak,” Davis said. 

Davis also spoke to the student body directly.

“The students are challenged to grow in academic competence, social and personal maturity and spiritual discernment and commitment,” Davis said. 

Bonner scholar, Benjamin C. Kamden-Talom read Psalm 46.

Maryville College’s newly inaugurated twelfth president, Dr. Bryan Coker, delivered his first convocation address titled “The Unintended Refresh.” Coker acknowledged the difficulty of writing and delivering his speech during this time.

“What in the world am I going to say… I’ve written a lot of speeches but this may be the toughest one yet,” Coker said. 

Coker’s care for the college and students was apparent throughout his address.

 “I miss you all, even those of you whom yet I don’t know…. I miss the art and the beauty of face to face interaction.” 

Despite the unconventional beginning of his first year as president, Coker concluded his speech by stressing his confidence in Maryville College as an institution and a community.

MC president, Dr. Bryan Coker delivers his address “The Unintended Refresh.”

Photo courtesy of Maryville College Communications.

“I believe in Maryville College. I believe in each of you. Today, tomorrow and moving forward.” 

Rev. Dr. Anne Mckee, the campus minister, said the prayers for the college before Dr. Dan Klingensmith, academic dean, gave the declaration of the academic Year.

Klingensmith, like the other speakers, acknowledged the unique challenges brought on by this year, but also the ways in which the college has been challenged before.

“It is not even our first pandemic,” Klingensmith said. “We can take comfort and inspiration that they were tested in ways that are different… they can do, we can do.” 

Klingensmith noted the importance of ritual, like rising for the Declaration of the Academic Year, but modifying his language to reflect the limitations that have been brought on by COVID-19.

Dr. Dan Klingensmith delivers the Declaration of the Academic Year

Photo courtesy of Maryville College Communications.

Mckee gave the benediction, and convocation ended with a recorded version of the Maryville College choir singing “Benediction and Amen” by Peter C. Lutkin. 

Maryville College’s Convocation can still be viewed on the Maryville College Facebook page.

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