29 Aug

Welcome to our freshman class, and welcome back to our sophmore, junior, and senior classes! It was entirely too quiet in the Honors Building this summer; we’re eagerly awaiting the return to life that the new academic year brings.

I attended the Convocation ceremonies today and don’t want to repeat the sound advice offered in today’s speeches. Instead, I thought I’d share two memories of the day that I’ve thought of since returning home. One of the highlights of the day for me happened when I was driving in. Near the Smith Center a few students were tossing a football across the road; a horde of students stood in front of one townhouse in what appeared to be a giant kiddie pool, laughing and gabbing. Still larger hordes of students — identifiable by the color of their t-shirts — yelled and chanted as they marched to the Smith Center. Faculty in their regalia darted between the chaos, looking for a way in. The campus was alive; a spirit of adventure could be felt. Life might appear calmer tomorrow when classes begin, but I hope that you take that spirit of adventure into the classroom with you. It doesn’t just belong outdoors!

The second highlight of the day occurred when I was lining up with other faculty to process in for Convocation. I had the good fortune to be standing next to Professor Peter Caws, a University Professor of Philosophy who teaches for the Honors Program, and was reminded that among his many scholarly articles and books, he once wrote about “the culture of curiosity.” The phrase immediately resonated for me, as it captures precisely what I hope the Honors Program will do for all of you — take your curiosity and lead you somewhere new; build a “culture of curiosity” for all of us.

Perhaps the phrase resonates also because one of my favorite lines in Lewis Carroll’s wonderful tale Alice in Wonderland is “curious and curiouser” — not perfect grammar, but it captures the spirit that leads Alice through all of her transformative experiences. I hope the semester ahead is transformative for you, and that your curiosity takes you somewhere you did not expect to go. With all the best wishes, Maria Frawley

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