I’m Michael Covert, associate vice-president for retention and associate dean of students. It is truly a pleasure to welcome you—the Class of 2017—and your families to Transylvania University and the opening of August term. Many of you have been here before in various roles: as campers, admissions visitors, event attendees, or, parents, perhaps even as students yourselves. Yet, your connection with campus has now changed as you have become not only the present, but also the future of Transylvania.
“Be the person who listens—the one who speaks truthfully, seeks to learn intently, and strives to make this a better place for those around you.”
Our name reflects our founding—at a time before Kentucky was even a state and our area was known as simply Transylvania, Latin for “across the woods.” Your institution was formed as the Revolutionary War raged. A few years later, it was Transylvania that Thomas Jefferson lauded as one of the best educational providers anywhere.
I encourage you to keep history in mind, yet be certain to also focus on your own time at Transylvania and what it will look like in the coming years. There will be many opportunities for your class to make a mark, and we hope you will vigorously pursue them.
The First-Year Experience that you embark upon this weekend consists of both academic ventures and co-curricular experiences. Take advantage of it all, even when you doubt your desire to do so. Soon all aspects of Transylvania and our full student body will surround you, yet this month is YOUR time as the Class of 2017.
The First Engagements Seminar and orientation weekend have been structured by a group of upperclass students, faculty and staff who believe in what you are and—even more importantly—in what you can become.
Talk with us! Ask for help! We are anxious to adopt the next generation of Pioneers, witness your successes, and assist you through challenges you may face.
Many years ago I sat exactly where you students are—excited, a little scared, and somewhat anxious for my parents to depart so I could get started at Transylvania.
With the wisdom that time provides, I will offer one piece of advice. In the days ahead, you will interact with many individuals with whom you have little in common—or at least it will seem that way initially.
In a liberal arts institution, being respectful of differences, even relishing those as concepts that can expand your world-view, should be paramount. Ask questions of others, and above all simply listen before formulating opinions.
Ernest Hemingway once stated, “When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” Be the person who does—the one who speaks truthfully, seeks to learn intently, and strives to make this a better place for those around you.
As our Associate Dean Wilson Dickinson encouraged you at last night’s presentation, "Be brave enough to be your best self." That is how you create your own legacy at Transylvania.
This is a brand new day for you—a chance for continued success, or to start over and create yourself from scratch. We look forward to embarking on that journey alongside of you and your family.
Welcome to Transylvania!
By way of formalizing our tradition of excellence and your participation in a community of scholars, we have something we would like to give you.
Throughout the days and weeks ahead, you will learn much about Transylvania’s extraordinary history and heritage. You will hear about the many great Americans who helped build this university, men and women like Thomas Jefferson, Henry Clay, Cassius Marcellus Clay, Lula Morton Drewes, and a host of others. Yet, despite our past glories, all of us gathered here today are certain that each of you has the potential to bring even greater honor to this remarkable institution.
Without question, many individuals have helped you get to this point in your life. During your time at Transylvania, you will meet many more people who will assist and inspire you. As we conclude this ceremony, we would like to present you with an important memento, one that represents the community of scholarship that is Transylvania.
Our ushers will guide each row of the Class of 2017 up on stage where the president and deans will present each of you a Transylvania coin which is inscribed on one side with the university’s motto:
In Lumine illo Tradimus Lumen: “In That Light, We Pass On the Light.”
We believe that the education that Transylvania students receive yields enlightened individuals. Each generation of Pioneers benefits from the light of those who came before, and in turn offers the same to those who follow.
We hope that four years from now, as you prepare to walk across the stage at graduation, you will consider giving the coin to someone important to you.
Someone who helped you along the way.
Chances are strong that designating a single person from your collegiate experience will be one of the most difficult things you undertake.
Keep the coin close. Take it out occasionally and consider all that you plan to accomplish over the next four years.
Transylvania University admits students regardless of age, race, color, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, veteran status, national origin, or any other classification protected by federal or state law or local ordinance.