The newest members of the Brandeis community have arrived on campus and began their Brandeis journeys on Sunday, Aug. 26. After a full day of moving in and events, the Class of 2022, transfer students and their families gathered on Chapel’s Field for the annual Convocation ceremony.

According to an Aug. 27 BrandeisNOW article, the incoming group of students has 907 first-year students and 30 transfer students.

Core Orientation Committee member Erin Kobiella ’19 began the ceremony by welcoming the new students to campus and introducing the other members of the Orientation Core Committee: Adrian Ashley ’20, Melanie Rush ’20 and Sohaima Khiliji ’20. The group had been planning this year’s orientation for the past 10 months. Kobiella encouraged the students to step out of their comfort zones and to try new activities as they embark on their Brandeis journeys. 

Next, Rush introduced University President Ronald Liebowitz, who is entering his third year in the position.

Liebowitz welcomed the new members of the Brandeis community to campus and shared his own perspectives of the University to the students: “There is a deep loyalty … to the institution on the part of the faculty and staff, and a deep admiration and appreciation for the faculty and staff on the part of Brandeis students and alums.” He described the special connection between students and faculty at Brandeis due to students' love of learning.

Liebowitz also observed how open students, faculty and staff are when engaging in conversation on difficult topics. He described his experiences at discussions about how to improve accessibility on campus for those with disabilities, and detailed an April 2018 town-hall meeting in which the community argued for a more inclusive and fair Brandeis.

Liebowitz then gave the students advice: “Jump in; don’t hold back.” However, he warned against jumping into too much too soon and spreading oneself too thin. Liebowitz also encouraged the students to have open discussions and debates in order to learn from each other by being open to ideas that challenge how they think. 

He also encouraged students to help build the institution and bring fresh ideas and approaches to shape the University in meaningful ways, and concluded his speech by reminding students to look after each other to help create a better Brandeis.

The next speaker, University Provost Lisa Lynch, welcomed students to the Brandeis community, calling it “a family that will challenge you; it will drive you crazy from time to time.” However, she stressed that the Brandeis family will be there to support students in good and bad times.

“You are an extraordinary group of students, chosen from the largest group of applicants in the history of Brandeis,” she said, adding that students come from all over the world and from different backgrounds, contributing positively to a campus community.

Lynch reminded students to call home and go to Community Advisor-led events; to be true to themselves and to be curious; to take a class that they did not expect to take and step out of their comfort zone academically; to be kind and to take care of themselves and their surroundings.

She then addressed the parents in the crowd, telling them to “let go, so [their children] can grow” and advocate for themselves. Lynch also told the parents to still expect the late-night phone calls and to help students navigate the trying moments in their Brandeis experience. She told families to send their students mail and food and to prepare for their students to grow as people.

Khiliji then introduced the Catholic Chaplain in the department of Spiritual and Religious Life, Allison Cornelisse. Cornelisse guided students and their families through a deep breathing exercise after a long day of unpacking and traveling. As they continued to take deep breaths, she said that with all of the change, there is a chance for blessing and much for which to feel thankful. She allowed for a moment of silence to refresh and breathe, and encouraged students to seize the opportunities that the University offers.