UGA’s opening convocation will have new look, same purpose

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia’s Opening Convocation, which marks the start of the new academic year at UGA, will have a different look and a new location, but the same purpose, when it is held Aug. 16.

Instead of the formal academic ceremony that has been held in Stegeman Coliseum the last six years, this year’s Convocation will be a picnic on Legion Field beginning at 5 p.m., complete with a pep rally and a concert.

But the event will retain some of the serious aspects of the previous ceremony, including the Pillars of the Arch ceremony in which new students are asked to adopt a set of value statements that define ethical responsibilities of UGA students and faculty.

UGA President Michael F. Adams will speak briefly, and Athens–Clarke County Mayor Heidi Davison will offer a welcome to the community.

“While the format will change, the basic purpose of Convocation remains the same, and that is to welcome students – especially new students – to campus and help them understand what it means to be a UGA student,” said Rodney Bennett, vice president for student affairs.

All students, both new and returning, are invited to Convocation, and faculty are also encouraged to attend to meet students, said Bennett. Dress is casual and there will be free Chick-Fil-A sandwiches, pizza, cookies and soft drinks.

In the past some new students have had trouble getting to the coliseum because they were moving into residence halls or didn’t have transportation, Bennett said. “So we decided to take Convocation to where the students are,” he said, noting that Legion Field is in easy walking distance of halls where most new students live.

Bennett noted that Convocation began in 1999 as the result of a student’s participation in LeaderShape, a student leadership development program. “It’s important to continue the tradition started by students, and to continue sharing the vision and message of those students,” he said.

The event will begin with a pep rally led by the Derby Pep Band and UGA cheerleaders. But the most important feature will continue to be the Pillars of the Arch ceremony, Bennett said. Developed by students in 2001, the Pillars of the Arch is a creed inspired by UGA’s famous Arch and based on principles represented by the Arch’s three columns – “wisdom,” “justice” and “moderation.”

Students will receive a card on which the Pillars of the Arch statement is printed. Attached to the card will be a UGA Arch pin. Banners symbolizing wisdom, justice and moderation will be displayed, and students will be asked to put on the Arch pin and read aloud the Pillars of Arch creed.

The program will end with the singing of the UGA Alma Mater, led by members of the Arch Society, and will be followed by a concert by the band Sound Tribe Sector 9.

UGA’s fall semester classes begin Aug. 18.