Joining a Long, Proud Line

Photo by Janet Rogers, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications.

Convocation welcomes 2,300 new students

See complete album of 45 photos on Flickr at


“This is your chance. Make the most of it!”

With those words, Chancellor Leo E. Morton welcomed about 2,300 new freshmen and transfer students to the University of Missouri-Kansas City at the annual Convocation ceremony Sunday.

Convocation is a ceremony intended to serve as a “bookend” to graduation, setting a tone of both warm welcome and high expectations for new students. Faculty and administrators in full academic regalia marched into Swinney Recreation Center for the occasion, accompanied by bagpipes and drums. New students accepted and donned their new kangaroo pins, a symbol of their induction into the UMKC community.

Morton, administrators, faculty and student leaders all shared recommendations for how the newcomers can maximize the opportunities that a university education offers.

“You are the newest – and best-looking – of a long and proud line of Roos,” Morton said. “We want you to have a sense of your lineage, the ranks of scholars and leaders you are joining.

“Entering a university is an exciting time. As philosopher and reformer John Dewey noted, a progressive society needs more than the right to vote. He said, ‘Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.’ “

Morton cited two important resources that students should tap – the UMKC faculty, and the city of Kansas City.

“We have maintained a very low faculty-student ratio in the classroom. This means you can build personal relationships with tenured faculty – an opportunity that few major research universities offer,” Morton said. As for the city, “it is not just beautiful and filled with entertainment options, but is also a learning lab. This is an opportunity for discovery.”

Nathan Mauck, an assistant professor of finance at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management, talked about setting meaningful goals.

“I teach finance — money. It may not surprise you that many of my students like money. Some even want to earn some at some point. It may surprise you that I think money is a suboptimal goal,” Mauck said. “The more I visit with students, the more I am convinced that what they want, what we all want, is to be happy. It is easy to confuse money, success, power, and fame for happiness … happy students feel a sense of purpose and progress. They have identified things they can do better than others, or in a different way than others. Even better, they have found a way to use their unique skills to help. Given this, it probably makes sense to focus on identifying your unique skills and looking for ways to put them to use.”

Mel Tyler, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, talked about the class banners the new students signed on their way into Swinney Recreation Center for the ceremony.

“These banners will hang in the Student Union as a reminder of your commitment to your success at UMKC,” Tyler said.  “The banners serve as a reminder to us, faculty and staff, of our commitment to help you reach your full potential.”

In a traditional element of the ceremony, Tyler directed the students to don the new UMKC T-shirts provided to them.

“You are all about to begin one of life’s most important and exciting journeys,” he said. “With that in mind, I would like to greet you as future UMKC Alumni!”

Tyler cited statistics of the incoming class “to tell you how talented you are:”

  • The average ACT score for your class is 24, above the national average of 21.
  • The average GPA of our transfer students is 3.00
  • 22 percent of you were elected officers in student government
  • 43 percent indicate you want to continue participating in community service while at UMKC
  • 5 percent of you have already started your own businesses

Deputy Provost Cindy Pemberton provided another longstanding convocation tradition: explaining the six secrets of success for college students.

She said key components of success in higher education included

  • Go to class
  • Get to know the faculty
  • Get involved on campus
  • Get to know other students
  • Spend three hours of studying for every hour of class
  • Keep your eyes on the prize and savor the journey

“You are capable of doing things that you never thought possible,” Pemberton said.

| John Martellaro, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications

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