First-year students experienced the full array of start-of-term traditions Sunday, participating in Opening Exercises, the Pre-Rade, subsequent barbecue, and “step sing” to kick off their first year at the University.
Opening Exercises is an annual event marking the beginning of the academic career for the incoming first-years. The ceremony is held in the University Chapel on the Sunday prior to the beginning of fall semester and involves the welcoming of the first-years by the University President, hymns and prayers, and the awarding of undergraduate prizes for the academic achievements of current students.
President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 began his speech by recognizing the religious history of the ceremony, recounting how past presidents of the University had given Christian sermons to remind the incoming classes of their ethical obligations.
Although he noted the ceremony changed to be secular and interfaith in nature, he emphasized that the importance of understanding the values and ethics of the University has not changed.
Eisgruber cited the year’s Pre-read, Keith Whittington’s “Speak Freely,” as a reminder of one of those important values: truth seeking.
“In the 21st-century United States, we have become so accustomed to the idea of a research University that we rarely think about how genuinely astonishing it is to have these strong, durable, truth seeking institutions in our society,” Eisgruber said. “The fearless, unbounded, persistent pursuit of truth threatens conventional wisdom.”