Longwood Convocation 2010
President Finnegan urges seniors to "build a better, more caring world" - Longwood University
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Longwood Convocation 2010
President Finnegan urges seniors to "build a better, more caring world"

September 13, 2010

Convocation 2010 Capping Ceremony In a longtime Longwood tradition, Longwood seniors were “capped” at Convocation with customized, outrageously decorated mortarboards prepared by their "little brother" or "little sister."

Longwood University seniors were urged at Convocation to "use their education and talents to help build a better, more caring world." (Scroll down for photos)

President Patrick Finnegan, celebrating his first Convocation at Longwood, gave the seniors a "quiz" in which he asked them to name the 10 wealthiest people in the world, the last five winners of American Idol, 10 people who've won a Nobel or Pulitzer Prize, the World Series or Super Bowl champions in the last decade. "All were best in their field for a moment in time," he said, "but applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners."

Finnegan then gave them another quiz in which he asked the members of the Class of 2011 to name 10 people who "taught you something worthwhile, five friends who have helped you in difficult times, five teachers who have helped you in school, half a dozen people whose words or deeds have inspired you, and five people you enjoy spending time with."

"Easier, isn't it?" he said. "Why is that? The people who make a difference in your life aren't necessarily the ones with awards or credentials. They are the ones who care. The same is true for you. The contributions you will make to others will not be based on your credentials, impressive as they may be. They will be based instead on the application of your talents to the service of others. Credentials are not the foundation for really making a difference - caring is. You have all the talent and education to make a difference in our nation and in our world - if you choose to."

Three Longwood faculty members received awards at Convocation for superior teaching. Dr. Consuelo Alvarez, associate professor of biology, received the Maria Bristow Starke Award for Faculty Excellence; Dr. Sharon Emerson-Stonnell, professor of mathematics, the Maude Glenn Raiford Award for Excellence in Teaching; and Dr. Chene Heady, assistant professor of English, the Junior Faculty Award.

This year's Convocation was the first event held in the recently renovated Jarman Hall. The longtime venue was used thanks to a temporary occupancy permit that Longwood obtained recently from the state Bureau of Capital Outlay Management, which was necessary because the work is not quite done. Jarman will not be available for general use until late September or early October. The building had closed for the work, which has been called a "facelift," immediately after Convocation in September 2009. Work on the auditorium, as well as landscaping in front of and on the Lancaster Hall side of the building, was completed just hours before this year's ceremony.

In his remarks, Finnegan asked seniors to continue to represent Longwood after graduating, to honor the people who form their "team," to regularly do things they enjoy and to serve others, and to help him get to know Longwood.

"Take some time to do something you enjoy, whether it's being with your family or friends, quietly reading a good book, or working out at the health and fitness center. And, maybe more important, do something for someone else - a friend, a staff or faculty member, a person in the community. Take a moment and assist them when they're a little down, when they don't expect it but might need it, when your helping hand could make a difference. Dr. Martin Luther King said 'Life's most persistent and urgent question is what are you doing for others.' This is really at the heart of being an educated citizen - a citizen leader - who contributes to making the world a better place."

As he has said before, Finnegan said that Longwood's "core principles of  citizen leadership, honor and integrity" were among the factors that drew him to the university. He urged seniors to be citizen leaders.

"We live in the world's greatest democracy, and we need your help to thrive. We need you to speak up when you see a need, we need you to lend a hand when you are asked for help, we need you to step up when you see a chance to lead, and we need you to carry on the message of citizen leadership."

He also urged them to practice civility. "The lesson I hope you learn while here, and the attitude you should leave here with when you start your next phase in life is: We should always strive for civility, promote a pleasant atmosphere, exude kindness, and show understanding and respect for others."

In a longtime Longwood tradition, Longwood seniors were "capped" by their "little sisters" or "little brothers," with the senior class president, Kelsey Odom, the first person capped. She was capped on the Jarman stage by her friend Brooke Rieley, assisted by the (interim) vice president for academic affairs, Dr. Ken Perkins, another Longwood tradition. The capping involves customized, outrageously decorated mortarboards prepared by their little brother or little sister.

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