UR celebrated its traditional Convocation ceremonies last Friday in Dandelion Square, officially announcing the start of the new academic year.

“What convocation does is allow us to be a college,” Dean of The College William Green said. “It’s a nice beginning to the year.”

The ceremony also included the presentation of the Goergen Awards for contributions to undergraduate teaching and education in The College. Started in 1997, the Goergen Awards were initiated in honor of the former Board of Trustees Chairman and Class of 1960 graduate Robert Goergen.

“I had the wonderful opportunity last evening to meet and hear a little bit of each of the Goergen Award winners that will be recognized today,” President Joel Seligman said. “What extraordinary good, what passion they bring to teaching the curriculum in this university. We all should be very proud of this year’s winners.”

Professor of chemistry James Farrar, professor of religion and classics Emil Homerin and associate professor of political science David Primo were recipients of this year’s Goergen Award for Distinguished Achievement and Artistry in Undergraduate Education.

“I try and base my approach to teaching on three things – one is to be clear, two is to provide them the tools they need to think for themselves and three is to tell the truth,” Farrar said.

This approach was well appreciated by the administration. “I thought it was the most moving Convocation ceremony I have been to,” Dean of Students Jody Asbury said. “I was a little choked up when the award winners were talking about why they teach. It made me feel really lucky to work at a school where the professors love teaching so much and where they are rewarded for it with something like this.”

Goergen presented the awards and vowed to continue supporting the awards. “It is great that Goergen said he is going to be doing this for a long time,” Asbury said.

Director of Wilson Commons Student Activities Anne-Marie Algier agreed. “The Goergen Awards are very special. We are lucky that the Goergen Family is so generous and thoughtful as to recognize and reward outstanding teaching and dedication to student learning. Sometimes at a research university, teaching is undervalued. That is not the case at UR and it is wonderful to be able to publicly recognize and reward outstanding faculty.”

Senior Operations Officer of The College Ovide Corriveau received the Goergen Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Learning in The College. The Goergen Award for Curricular Achievement in Undergraduate Education was presented to the departments of biomedical engineering and political science.

Following the Convocation ceremony, a College-wide picnic was held in “The Grove,” attended by many students, faculty and staff members of the college community.

“The picnic is terrific,” Interim Vice Provost and Dean of The College Faculty Joanna B. Olmsted said. “It’s one of the few things that draws practically everybody in The College to one place.”

The picnic was then followed by the Activities Fair. It showcased more than 200 student clubs and organizations on campus and several live performances by different student groups such as the Bhangra Team and Strong Jugglers.

Many students, faculty and staff members attended the event.

“The turnout was wonderful,” Green said. “The faculty part was stronger – each year some part of it gets better than the year before.”

Sophomore Barbara Yang agreed. “It was really nice to see the whole college community come together as a group,” Yang said. “There were lots of students, faculty and staff from all over The College who attended the event. The turnout was really great.”

Olmsted summed up the event. “Convocation is a wonderful time to celebrate outstanding teachers and staff who make the place run,” she said.

Madhur can be reached at smadhur@campustimes.org.

Sridharan can be reached at asridharan@campustimes.org.

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