By Jennifer Calfas, Managing News Editor
Published September 1, 2014
When University President Mark Schlissel approached the podium in the Crisler Center for the first time in his new role, he was in good company. In front of a crowd of several thousand freshmen at the New Student Convocation on Friday, Schlissel delivered his first formal remarks to University undergraduates.
Immediately, Schlissel told the University’s newest batch of students that they, like him, face the challenge of adjusting to a new environment.
“This evening, we begin our Michigan journey together,” Schlissel said.
Schlissel’s speech came between performances by student groups and several other addresses, including comments by CSG President Bobby Dishell, a Public Policy senior; Ted Spencer, associate vice provost and executive director of the Office of Undergraduate Admissions; and E. Royster Harper, vice president for student life.
Schlissel began by addressing the obvious: As the 14th University president, he, like the thousands of new freshmen, has a lot to learn. After his first few months, however, he already has some advice to give.
“Have you figured out the UGLi? If not, you will soon,” he said. “Learning the culture of the Michigan community is a little confusing at first, but soon none of this will phase you.”
Throughout his speech, Schlissel lauded students for their academic and personal accomplishments that led to their decision to attend the University. He emphasized the value of a University education, encouraging students to make the most of the academic and extracurricular resources offered.
“Drink from the academic fire hose that is Michigan,” Schlissel said. “Learning at a research university … presents you unique opportunities to discover, be entrepreneurial and intellectually restless.”
Harper echoed Schlissel’s remarks by highlighting the ability of students to make their own mark on the University — which she strongly encouraged.
“The University is a very special and constantly evolving place; it’s your universe,” Harper said. “You need not leave it or take it as it was when you entered. We expect you to make a contribution to the University and the world.”
In his speech, Spencer said the class of 2018 was the “strongest” class to have ever entered the University — a characteristic that has typically been associated with each year’s incoming class.
Though the class of 2018’s enrollment data will not be officially revealed until October, Spencer said the freshmen are “very diverse with strong representation of racial, ethnic and religious class.”
Before closing his first set of remarks to undergraduate students, Schlissel quoted Mary Oliver, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, to pose a question for students to carry throughout their careers at the University.
“‘Tell me: What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’” Schlissel recited. “The answer begins here and now.”