July 29, 2010
At Summer Orientation, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Katie Conboy spoke to the Class of 2014 about their Common Intellectual Experience required reading assignment of Jonah Lehrer's How We Decide.
Below is the full text from Conboy's speech at Orientation:
I'm delighted to be among those welcoming you to Stonehill. I've met many of you before - on your first and second (and for some of you third or fourth!) visit - as you were weighing your options and deciding on a college to attend. I certainly hope that all the students here today will feel even more certain about their choice at the end of this two-day orientation, and that parents will feel even more confident after discovering still more about the place their sons and daughters will spend much of their time over the next four years.
But since I believe you learned a lot about our curriculum, faculty, academic support networks, and educational and social opportunities before you decided to attend Stonehill - and I know that tomorrow students will have the opportunity to speak directly with faculty members about preliminary course selections for the Fall semester - I want to use my few minutes here to talk about something different.
Here at Stonehill, we think it's important to have some common intellectual experiences - experiences that you can wrestle with and talk about with your peers, with your professors, with others on campus because they are experiencing the same thing. Most years, the first-year common experience has been a book - though last year it was a film - and my task at orientation has been to tell incoming students that they had summer reading ahead of them. I'm sure my announcement today of the summer reading for 2010 will make me just as popular with you as I was with all those previous classes! But I have to tell you that those books - like the one you will read - have been powerful starting points for the journey that a class takes together.
Two years ago, for example, the Class of 2012 read Greg Mortenson's Three Cups of Tea, the story of an ordinary mountain climber whose near-death experience on K-2 and his subsequent rescue by the residents of a small village in remote Pakistan led him to return to that village-against all odds-and to build a school for them. Even more remarkably, Mortenson went on to found an organization that has now built 72 schools throughout Pakistan and Afghanistan. In an environment where the Taliban has been repressive concerning the education of women, his organization has focused especially on educating girls. We were thrilled that Mortenson came to Stonehill to speak with the first-year class that year about his experiences.
Another year we all read An Ordinary Man by Paul Rusesabagina - the real-life hotel manager whose story was so grippingly rendered in the film Hotel Rwanda, and he too came to campus to meet with the first-year class. And there have been other equally compelling texts, followed by visits from the authors. Last year we assigned a documentary film about philosophy called Examined Life; students watched the film in small groups with Stonehill professors during their first few weeks on campus in the fall, and the filmmaker, Astra Taylor, visited campus last October.
For more information, contact Communications and Media Relations at 508-565-1321.