At Academic Convocation on Wednesday, August 30, the Stonehill community opened the new school year by celebrating faculty excellence, hearing a timely critique of anti-intellectualism on college campuses, and preparing for the fall harvest with the presentation of an Ames shovel to President John Denning, C.S.C. Music came courtesy of the College’s Concert Ensemble and the Collegiate Chorale who framed the fast-moving 50 minute ceremony in a packed house at the Sports Complex.
As is tradition, the ceremony featured last year's Hegarty Award Winnner, English Professor Helga Duncan, as keynote speaker, along with Fr. Denning, students Christianie DePina ’18, Nicholas Sangiovanni '18, and Tyler Normile ’18, Alumni Council President Steven Viveiros ’98, and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Joseph Favazza. Politics Professor Bettina Scholz was honored with this year’s Louise F. Hegarty Award for Excellence in teaching.
Stalwart Defense of Intellectualism
After the Invocation from Christianie DePina, Class Speaker Nicholas Sangiovianni introduced his friend and mentor, Professor Duncan, as keynote, praising:
"When the boundaries of traditional pedagogy are passed, education becomes ubiquitous. There is never a moment when talking with Professor Duncan that I do not feel I have something to offer, and something to learn."
Read his full reflection on her support and guidance here.
As she took the podium, Associate Professor of English Helga Duncan welcomed students new and old to campus—as well as gave a shout out to Associate Professor of Sociology Chris Wetzel on his return to teaching.
Professor Duncan then offered a engaging, thoughtful critique on the rise of anti-intellectualism, urging the student body to praise, rather than scorn, the pursuit of knowledge :
"I want to show you in the little time that we have together that learning and knowledge have mattered a great deal in the making of the country, and must continue to matter—regardless of the current climate of anti-intellectualism that would disdain serious inquiry, responsible research, and a commitment to learning."
Read Professor Duncan's full remarks here.
2017-2018 Hegarty Award Winner
Following Professor Duncan's remarks, Provost Joseph Favazza, shared some words of praise from students for Associate Professor of Political Science Bettina Scholz, this year's Hegarty Award Winner:
“Professor Scholz has been one of the most incredible and influential professors I have had at Stonehill. Her classes are so thoroughly thought-out, and every reading that she assigns and discussion that we hold is tied back into one of the courses’ larger themes. No matter what your major is, everyone could gain something from taking one of Professor Scholz’s classes.”
Read the full citation for Professor Scholz here.
Alumni Council President Steven Viveiros '98 spoke to the students on behalf of 26,000 Stonehill College alumni, and presented the Officers of the Class of 2018 with their class pins. He also welcomed the Class of 2021 and offered some advice to the senior class:
"Enjoy your senior year, relishing upper-level courses in your major, taking on leadership positions in the student body, and transitioning to careers or post-graduate study."
Read Viveiros' full remarks here.
Shovel and Stage-Setting
President for the Class of 2018, Tyler Normile followed tradition by presenting his selection for class shovel, the Ames Malleable Iron Potato Scoop, to Fr. John Denning. After hearing about the history of the shovel and context for its selection, which you can find here, Fr. John took to the podium to welcome everyone to the new academic year and share some words of guidance with the students, faculty, and staff in attendance:
"I pray that we possess the fundamental conviction and moral compass to stand up to the scourges of our day including racism, anti-Semitism, hate, and bigotry and any other action or word that denies the inherent dignity of the human person."
Read Fr Denning's full remarks here, and check out our photo gallery of the event below!