The 161st academic year at Mansfield University began with Convocation on Friday.
Dr. Jimmy Guignard, professor of English and chairperson of the Department of English and World Languages, was the featured speaker for the ceremony. In his address, “Beyond the White Lines”, he spoke passionately about his southern roots growing up in North Carolina, and the life lessons learned traveling the road with his dad, a truck driver.
“Look beyond the white lines. Because I learned early on from daddy, and looked around when I’m driving somewhere, I see and learn so much more,” he said. “Sure, I had a destination, a place I need to get to. But only staring forward or paying attention to point B is, I found, a form of blindness. I will get there, but I won’t know nearly as much, won’t be nearly as interesting, won’t connect with people in places nearly as well if I don’t spend some time paying attention to what’s around me.”
“We can keep our heads down, and keep moving forward to deliver our freight, or get our degree, and there is something to be said for that. But, I think the final thing I take away from daddy’s life on the road looking beyond the white lines, is that he was more than a truck driver. Like I am more than a southerner, or a college professor. Like you are more than the lines drawn around your disciplines or identity. As you travel the next four years following your route or even changing it, be sure to keep looking outside the lines, stay on your route, and don’t let the lines that are around you, define you,” Guignard concluded.
Interim President Peter Fackler welcomed the campus community to the start of a new academic year. Fackler addressed the incoming class of freshmen, and spoke with them about the unique partnership they were beginning with the university.
He urged students to make the most of their time at Mansfield, and actively engage with their professors. “Don’t hold back. You have everything to gain here, and nothing to lose. There is no risk. The bottom line is college is not a spectator sport. If you will engage with faculty, and do the hard work of preparing day after day, we will help you succeed, help you work toward all you have hoped for in your lives. Mansfield is your university; you are part of our family now.”
Convocation is presented by the Mansfield University Senate. “The Spirit and The Pride of Pennsylvania” MU Marching Band performed outside Straughn Hall before and after the ceremony. The Pride Brass Quintet and members of the Concert Choir performed during Convocation. Following the ceremony, a picnic for students, faculty and staff was held on the lawn in front of Memorial Hall.
MU welcomed its newest students to campus on Thursday, and returning students began arriving Friday.
The new students will take part in a series of activities and events throughout the weekend to help prepare them for college life.