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Westminster College welcomes Class of 2026 at Opening Convocation

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Posted on Friday, August 19, 2022

Westminster College ushered in its 170th academic year on Friday, Aug. 19, with its annual Opening Convocation in the Will W. Orr Auditorium.

President Dr. Kathy Brittain Richardson welcomed first-year and transfer students to Westminster at the formal gathering and encouraged members of the Class of 2026 to dream big, to achieve much and to work hard on their road to academic achievement, self-discovery and new experiences.

“You’ve been admitted to Westminster because we believe you have the capacity to succeed as a Titan,” Richardson said. “With commitment, diligence and creativity, you can accomplish the goals you set for yourself as a college student and as a young adult.”

Richardson reminded students that every member of the campus community is expected to honor the standards of compassion, justice and a disciplined life in the pursuit of excellence, and she urged students to offer their personal best and excellence as students and campus citizens. Richardson also spoke of one of the core academic principles at Westminster: collaboration.

“We believe the path to learning and success is not a solitary pathway. We believe students should walk, work and learn alongside and with our faculty,” she said, urging students to embrace the idea of collaboration, connection and experience as they begin their Westminster journeys.

Dr. Jamie McMinn, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College, also offered messages of welcome, while Dr. Deanne Buffalari, associate professor and chair of the neuroscience program, delivered the keynote address, “The Path Before You.”

Buffalari reflected on the varying paths students and alumni have taken and encouraged the new Titans to consider the impact of their footsteps long after they’ve graduated from Westminster.

“I have watched countless students raise money, educate others, bring awareness, perform service, engage in social justice and more. All over the world, Westminster alumni are working to make things better, not just for themselves, but for others. The footsteps that they are taking echo in other peoples’ lives and sometimes resonate around the world,” she said. “On your journey, consider how the path that you take might smooth the path for someone else.”

Student Government Association President Emma Neel ’23, a senior psychology major from McDonald, Pa., presented student remarks. The Rev. James Mohr, College chaplain, offered the invocation and benediction.

Following convocation, the new students were guided through a Westminster rite of passage—the march through the Faculty Gauntlet, a lineup of applauding faculty members and administrators welcoming the new students into the Westminster community. The gauntlet walk will be repeated in four years when the Class of 2026 graduates.

This year, Westminster welcomed more than 300 new first-year and transfer students, who arrived on campus early Friday morning and were greeted by upperclass orientation leaders and football players who helped unload cars and carry belongings into residence halls. Students will participate in orientation events throughout the weekend.

Fall semester classes begin Monday, Aug. 22.