Opening Convocation -- Fall 2013

Dr. Crystal Colter, Chair of the Faculty and Associate Professor of Psychology

Good morning! As the chair of the faculty for this academic year, I have the pleasure of welcoming new students into the Maryville College community and welcoming returning students back to the next academic year in your Maryville College journey. So on behalf of the dedicated faculty and staff who join you students to make up our campus community, I extend a warm Maryville College welcome.

As you begin this academic year, be it your first in college or further along your academic path, you will begin, or perhaps continue, to explore your vocation, seeking to find your life’s work in something you love. Frederick Buechner, the great writer and theologian, wrote, Vocation is where our greatest passion meets the world’s greatest need.” More simply put perhaps, the artist Picasso wrote, "The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away." I believe that one of life’s greatest adventures is finding one’s vocation and living it out in the world in ways that show compassion and create positive change. Pursuing your individual gifts and purpose in life is an important task that you will work through in community with others at Maryville College. You will learn and grow and be challenged and supported by other students and by faculty and staff in ways that you have not likely experienced before.

The intense connections among students, faculty, and staff at the College will certainly contribute to your learning and growth, but the curriculum itself is also set up to prepare you for a rapidly changing world and to do so in an interdisciplinary way, bringing knowledge from a range of disciplines to bear on important issues and problems. And this is critical given the world you will enter formally as college educated adults in the near future, a complex world with some major challenges and problems that will only be solved through knowledge gained from a variety of perspectives and disciplines, through skills like critical thinking and interpersonal and intercultural understanding, and through values like compassion. A liberal arts education will prepare you for the part of your journey where you partner with other talented citizens and leaders and turn your hearts and minds toward solving the problems in your communities.

This year is going to be a very exciting one at Maryville College. You will hear about a new initiative at the College called “Maryville College Works” that is designed to connect your liberal arts education and your study in a major discipline to the world beyond our campus, to a chosen professional path that will sustain you and bring added value to the world. You will also hear about a series of Tuesday afternoon chapel talks that will explore the role of faith in vocation. Focusing on the theme “Faith Works,” this series will touch on the many ways that our various kinds of work grow out of the deep values and perspectives we hold.

Mary Oliver wrote at the end of her beautiful poem “The Summer Day,” “Tell me, what will you do with your one wild and precious life…?” I believe this is a question we each answer over and over as we move through our life’s journey. So I will leave you with a warm welcome and these few questions to ponder:

What will your most consistently important values be as you begin this academic year?

Where will you find your meaningful work, inside and outside the classroom, this year?

What will it look like to give away your gifts at Maryville College and in the other communities of which you are a part this year?

On behalf of the entire Maryville College community, I welcome you to this academic year.

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2016 semester is 1,198.