The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Convocation begins 2006-07 school year

 Convocation begins 2006-07 school year
Photo by John Schreiber, The Daily Campus
Convocation begins 2006-07 school year

Convocation begins 2006-07 school year (Photo by John Schreiber, The Daily Campus)

Wednesday night the class of 2010 got a little bit of tradition — and a whole lot of advice.

At the 92nd annual convocation in McFarlin Auditorium, first years heard from SMU President Gerald Turner, interim Provost Thomas Tunks, Student Body President Taylor Russ, and featured speaker Jose Antonio Bowen, the new dean of Meadows School of the Arts.

Bowen’s advice to the incoming class?

Change it up.

“That’s really the only way you learn,” he said. “You change.”

Bowen’s speech, entitled “Hermeneutics: Learning to Change the World,” emphasized that each student has a unique context for learning. Changing this context, said Bowen, is essential to growing as a student and a person.

“In many ways, what you learn is less important than how you learn,” he said. “You need to get out of your comfort zone, go abroad and take courses in areas you didn’t know existed.”

The newly appointed dean should know — his interests run the gamut from chemistry (his undergraduate major at Stanford) to jazz (he’s performed for more than 30 years with greats like Dizzy Gillespie and Stan Getz). He holds joint PhDs from Stanford in musicology and humanities, emphasizing the importance of the arts not for their culture but because “the arts at SMU are a cheap and easy way to explore another world,” he said.

Bowen also interacted with the audience in an exercise on global perspective.

Audience members had red, yellow or blue stickers on their programs representing certain socio-economic factors. Red, for instance, meant that you were one of the billions of people living on less than $2 a day. Yellow represented inadequate access to sanitation, and blue stood for illiteracy. In the auditorium of about 1,500 people, only one person in the “mini-world” attended a major research university in the United States.

“As a freshman at SMU, you are living a dream far beyond the imagination of most human beings,” Bowen said. “What you do with this privilege matters. Because if not you, who?”

Bowen’s closing received a standing ovation, and audience members voiced enthusiastic approval after the recession.

Andy Doughtie, an SMU alumnus and father to first-year Anna Lee, found the speech moving.

“Professor Bowen was outstanding,” he said.

Wife and SMU alumna Jil agreed.

“Even though he was speaking to the students, I felt like I could take that into the next stage of my own life,” she said.

First-years approved of the dean’s speech as well, but were slightly overheated after waiting outside for Rotunda passage for well over 20 minutes.

“I was waiting for at least 30 minutes,” said David Pate of McClean, VA.

First-year students lined up outside the Perkins Administration Building for the traditional walk around the seal in Dallas Hall, as faculty and alumni watched Phil Bennett and members of the football team speak on the main quad.

After walking through Dallas Hall, students proceeded directly to McFarlin for convocation.

Tiffany Jenson, president of the Staff Association, helped plan the rally on the quad and coordinate convocation. Enrollment Services, Student Activities, and Residence Life and Student Housing also helped coordinate the events.

As for convocation, “it’s really neat to see all the . . . different disciplines and let everyone meet in a way that’s spiritual and supports humanity and diversity,” she said.

 

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