Terry Coonan has been a part of the Florida State University story since arriving on campus almost 15 years ago as the founding executive director of the Center for the Advancement of Human Rights.
While speaking to Florida State’s Class of 2018 during New Student Convocation at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center Sunday, Aug. 24, Coonan invited more than 6,000 incoming students to become a part of the Florida State story by participating in the numerous opportunities available beyond the classroom, including research, service, leadership, internships and international study.
The annual event officially welcomes first-year students into the university’s community of scholars and introduces them to the university’s values and traditions on the eve of the first day of the fall semester.
“There are a host of opportunities waiting for you here at FSU,” Coonan said. “Join our FSU community for great scholarship and also for great service opportunities. Let me be among the first of many people this week to welcome you to our community, but, even more importantly, to our FSU story. Become a part of that story in the coming years that you are here with us.”
More than 5,000 of the approximately 6,100-member new freshman class attended the hour-long ceremony decked out in T-shirts in an array of colors to represent the university’s academic colleges. The new students are among about 41,500 students who will begin classes at Florida State on Monday, Aug. 29.
Interim President Garnett S. Stokes welcomed the new students, and Interim Provost Sally McRorie delivered a charge to the Class of 2018, encouraging its members to take full advantage of the academic opportunities that are available to them.
Dean of Undergraduate Studies Karen Laughlin called upon students to commit to live by the values embodied in the torches on the university seal. During the torch ceremony, three upperclassmen passed torches representing Vires (strength), Artes (skill) and Mores (character) to a trio of incoming students, symbolically passing the university’s ideals from one class to the next.
Participating in the ceremony were Daniel Stribling, who passed the Vires torch to Leila Sabet; Daniel Ruiz, who passed the Artes torch to Nicholas Bastidas; and Rachel Crooks, who passed the Mores torch to Alexandra Taggart. Incoming School of Theatre student Ian Sicks read the winning essays.
The first-year students were chosen on the basis of essays they wrote about the qualities of the three torches and how they connect with the history and culture of the Seminole Tribe.
After the torch ceremony, Vice President for Student Affairs Mary Coburn led the Class Pin Ceremony and the recitation of the university’s Seminole Creed. She also discussed the university’s Uphold the Garnet and Gold philosophy of respect for the dignity and worth of each member of the university community.
Students also were taught the Alma Mater, “High o’er the Towering Pines” with assistance from College of Music Professor Kevin Fenton and incoming music student Driss Ziane.
Following the convocation, thousands of new students joined Stokes and college deans at the President’s House for the Backyard Barbecue, which featured free food and entertainment.