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The Commitment to Excellence Starts Now

Convocation marks the beginning of the academic year

Bagpipes led a procession of flags, university leaders and deans of every academic unit. What is usually considered a day of rest and relaxation for many, was a day of pomp and circumstance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Nearly 1,200 new students filed into Swinney Recreation Center Aug. 20 for UMKC’s annual convocation ceremony – the official kick off for their academic journeys at UMKC. Students heard encouraging welcome remarks from university and student leaders and participated in rituals that marked their official induction into the Roo family and their commitment to academic excellence. Prior to the ceremony, students signed class banners that will hang in the student union.

Associate Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Jennifer DeHaemers was the first to welcome students with words of encouragement and inspiration for the next few years. DeHaemers reminded students of UMKC’s committed faculty who are here “to assist you on your journey. Your journey starts now.”

The class of 2021 is UMKC’s largest freshman class to date, coming in at approximately 1,200 students. This year the university also welcomes about 1,100 transfer students and nearly 250 international students. The average ACT score for incoming freshmen is 25.85.

“We at UMKC are stewards of knowledge in many disciplines,” said Deputy Provost Cindy Pemberton, encouraging students to seek experiences that teach them to ask their own questions and find their own answers. Pemberton spoke to students about creating knowledge, conducting research and committing to a growth mindset.

Piggybacking onto Pemberton’s remarks, Chancellor Emeritus Leo E. Morton told students, “We want you to recognize your role in what can be considered the defining act of civilization: the practice of each generation passing the accumulated knowledge of humankind on to the next.”

Across campus, faculty and staff have been preparing to ensure each student has a successful academic year. Morton said that although it is important to study hard, he wants students to also connect to the university as people and get involved in student organizations.

Student Government Association President Drew Rogers stressed student involvement and participation in SGA, while also suggesting a few of Kansas City’s most popular places to go for food and entertainment.

“Kansas City is a great place to be and UMKC is a major part of that,” said Rogers.

Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences John Herron’s message resonated with students as he spoke to them about understanding the sacrifice that it takes for many to attend college. He spoke to students about being adventurous in their academics, suggesting they add a humanities minor to their degree program in order to know how to think and understand people and the world around them. More than anything, though, Herron wants students “to be happy, healthy and graduate.”

Concluding the resounding message of encouragement and commitment to academic success that rang throughout convocation, students stood together and took part in UMKC’s annual pinning ritual, which represents the beginning of their commitment to UMKC.


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