What is the impact on campus life?

The weekly convocation series is a shared campus experience that brings students, faculty, and staff together for one hour for a lecture or presentation from specialists in a variety of disciplines. The goal of the convocation series is to stimulate thought and conversation on a wide range of important topics.

Convocations can enhance the academic experience of students — educate, enlighten, inspire, promote understanding of diversity, and develop global thinkers.

While a convocation may last an hour, its impact can last forever.

Convocation presentations can spur conversations in the dining halls, in the dorm lounges, and even in the classrooms. But convocations should not simply replicate what is being done in the classroom. Instead, students should leave a convocation feeling that they had been exposed to a new idea or challenged to look at an idea from a different perspective.

The shelf life of a convocation presentation — the long-lasting impact on academic discourse — is much greater if it is linked in some way to the curriculum. We seek opportunities to engage speakers with students beyond the formal convocation program. For instance, a lunch discussion with the speaker follows each convocation, and any students, faculty, or staff who wish to attend may sign up for a limited number of spaces. Sometimes a speaker is invited to speak in a class, conduct a workshop, screen a film, or participate in a discussion group.

Around 400 to 500 people attend the convocations each week, which has been fairly constant over the years. Numbers increase when there is a renowned speaker or a controversial topic. The audience is made up mostly of students, with some faculty, staff, and a few local citizens. There is a core group of people who attend the convocations regularly, with others attending occasionally. About 22 percent of the student body and 7 percent of faculty and staff attend the weekly convocations.