By: Marcus Dieterle, Associate News Editor
Featured image courtesy of Towson University Instagram.
Instead of offering advice to the new students at convocation, Towson University President Kim Schatzel asked for a favor: “start by making Towson University a better place.”
“With all of your fantastic diversity, your amazing intelligence and drive, your commitment to community, your desire to connect with new people and new places, [and] your belief that we all can do well by doing good, start here by making TU a more welcoming and inclusive place for all of your classmates and community members,” Schatzel said.
Over 5,000 new students — 2,771 freshmen, 2,330 transfer students, and about 560 graduate students – gathered for the first time on Aug. 25 at the New Student Convocation in SECU Arena.
One in five new students this year is not from Maryland, with students hailing from 25 different states and 14 foreign countries, according to Schatzel.
Schatzel welcomed students to their new home and encouraged them to make Towson “more open-minded, more open to the sharing of ideas through thoughtful debate.”
“This is your home now,” she said. “Welcome to this important, exciting, and sometimes a little bit scary next stage of your lives. We are so glad that you are here and we are so glad that you are part of Towson University.”
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Tim Chandler gave students “Tim’s Five Tips for TU Success”:
- Study dutifully and purposefully.
- Engage fully.
- Eat healthfully.
- Exercise regularly.
- Sleep abundantly.
“Remembering that first and foremost, graduation is your goal, and getting an outstanding education is a key to your future,” Chandler said. “I want you to know that we are totally and utterly committed to your academic success and truly want you to excel while you’re here.”
Vice President for Student Affairs Deb Moriarty said over 46 percent of the new students represent a “diverse ethnic population.”
The class of 2021 had an average high school GPA of 3.59; transfer students had an average GPA of 3.0; and the 115 Honors College students had an average GPA of 4.0, according to Moriarty.
Moriarty led the new students in reciting the Tiger Pledge, committing themselves to Towson’s ideals of respect, leadership, growth, engagement and pride.
Karen Fallon, professor of speech-language pathology and audiology, shared her three “up”s for students to make the most of their time at Towson:
- Show up and be present.
- Step up and engage in the classroom.
- Look up from your phone/other electronic devices, and take in your environment.
Fallon encouraged students to ask questions, volunteer and get to know the faculty “who truly care about you, who care about your learning, and who are invested in your success.”
“For all of you Legally Blonde fans out there, channel your inner Elle Woods and connect with people around you,” she said. “Take advantage of all the wonderful resources around you and embrace this time.”
Student Government Association President James Mileo shared some vulnerable moments with the incoming students, recounting a relationship with an ex-boyfriend who tried to control where he went and who he talked to.
“In that moment, I believed my survival was dependent on our relationship,” Mileo said. “All the abuse — physical, mental, emotional – were the cost of being able to live.”
Mileo said that after he and his ex broke up, he felt broken, but he also saw the experience as a chance to grow and reclaim who he was.
“If you’re broken, you have to put yourself back together,” he said. “So for you all sitting here today, this is your time to rebuild yourselves, put yourselves together.”
Mileo also addressed last year’s attempts to impeach him by a group of SGA senators while he was vice president of SGA.
In February 2016, former SGA Senator Chris Shanahan and three other senators accused Mileo of abusing his power and breaking a state law related to SGA salary.
The impeachment attempt died before a special resolution for impeachment was brought to a vote.
He said the experience was isolating and that he felt discouraged from running for president until he talked to his mentor.
“She reminded me that it doesn’t matter if the work you do is meaningful to your peers,” Mileo said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re around the people who want you to fail. It doesn’t matter if you feel isolated and alone. What matters is your ability to make change in this world.”
Music education major Victoria Delgado opened and closed convocation by singing the national anthem and Towson’s Alma Mater respectively.