GVSU Convocation 2020: President Mantella seeks joy in unprecedented times


Courtesy / Olivia Fellows

Trevor Hubert, Staff Reporter

As GVSU, along with every other school in the country, begins to traverse the uncharted waters of COVID-19 learning, this year’s Convocation ceremony sported a very different look from years prior. The class of 2024 did not pack the fieldhouse, and the few faculty in attendance were all masked up.

After a brief message reminding students of new pandemic protocols, the virtual convocation opened with a performance from the GVSU Laker Marching Band on the north lawn of campus, followed by opening remarks by University Academic Senate Chair Felix Ngassa.

“To me, this pandemic has been a lesson in adapting, rolling with the punches and learning resilience,” Ngassa said. “We are called to learn from this unprecedented time and alter our actions and attitudes to make our lives better, stronger and happier.”

He went on to welcome the class of 2024 and remind students that, “our collective actions are essential to the health and safety of us all, and to maintain the quality of this physical space.”

His speech was followed by Provost Maria Cimitile, who praised the faculty for their commitment to education and stressing their importance.

“Our students need you now more than ever,” Cimitile said. “Our society needs you now more than ever.”

Student Senate Vice President of Educational Affairs Autumn Mueller geared her address to GVSU’s incoming students, encouraging them to get involved and find their passions on campus.

“Involvement could potentially leave you with some of the best memories of your life and will give you something to remember your college experience by,” Mueller said.

GVSU President Philomena V. Mantella gave the final speech of the ceremony, sounding hopeful for the coming school year. She encouraged students to find joy and a positive attitude as our school takes this journey into the unknown.

“Opening up an academic year, no matter what the challenges and changes we face together, can be enriched by a joyful heart, and the recognition that our time is finite,” Mantella said. “Our opportunities are either limited or limitless, depending on our perspective to see the possibility or see constraint.”

The convocation closed with a virtual passing of the school flag from each class, as well as a performance of “You Will be Found” by Euphoria, GVSU’s A Capella group.

Mantella left viewers with some inspiration from Roy T. Bennett’s “Light in the Heart.”

“Don’t just learn, experience,” Mantella said. “Don’t just read, absorb. Don’t just change, transform. Don’t just criticize, encourage”.

For those who missed the virtual ceremony, it is available in rebroadcast on YouTube.