In a sight not seen at Regis College since 2019, students, faculty, and staff filled the Fine Arts Center Tuesday afternoon for Convocation to celebrate the start of the academic year and welcome the newest students to the Pride.
“We are here, we are together, we are in person, and yes I’ve had a lot of coffee this morning but I am this genuinely excited to be with you here today,” exclaimed Jonathan Fitzgerald, an assistant professor in the School of Arts and Sciences, who opened Convocation. “This learning together in community is what we are all about.”
After the 2020 Convocation was held remotely due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, Tuesday saw the return of traditions such as the faculty procession through the tunnel of cheering students. The procession was led by Vice President for Academic Affairs Mary Erina Driscoll, who participated in her first Convocation as the university’s chief academic officer.
Regis College welcomed more than 1,600 new students this year across on-the-ground and online undergraduate and graduate programs. The theme of Convocation was “Emerging Together in Hope,” and explored how, now in person, the campus community can move forward as one following a difficult year.
In her remarks, Student Government Association (SGA) President Mirriam Mananah ’22 encouraged her classmates to discover all Regis has to offer.
“Though there are still many things that are unknown, Regis is here for you,” she said. “All you have to do is be willing to accept all the opportunities that come your way with open arms and make the most out of your experience.”
Being able to hold a large in-person event was possible because of the campus community’s successful response to COVID-19 so far this semester. Between August 16 and September 13, the university recorded just seven positive COVID-19 cases from 4,228 tests administered, which equates to a .16 percent positivity rate. Additionally, the campus community boasts a 96 percent vaccination rate.
“Each and every person in the Regis community – students, faculty, and staff – was instrumental in getting us here today,” President Antoinette Hays, PhD, RN, said in her remarks. “And that work will continue. It is all of our responsibilities to take care of our dear neighbors and keep our community safe. We are emerging together in hope and will move forward together in solidarity.”
This Convocation was the 10th for Hays as Regis’ president. The program featured a video highlighting just some of the university’s accomplishments over the past decade under Hays’ leadership.
It also set the stage for Hays’ announcement on the launch of a new strategic planning process, in which the entire university community will be called upon to chart Regis’ path to being its best self.
“These conversations will be driven by three key priorities: equity, investment and innovation, and empowerment,” Hays said. “Through these lenses, we can assure Regis’ mission will continue to thrive for years to come.”