Convocation 2020

Welcome, class of 2024! Celebrate the start of Fall term! For the first time, Convocation will be presented as an audio podcast. Kick off the academic year from wherever you reside in the world—on campus, or beyond. Tune into B-RAD or listen below via the SoundCloud link. Written versions of speeches are available alongside the audio link.

two students playing the drums 2 men playing music at convocation faculty member playing drums at convocation

For Convocation this year, we wanted to do something more intimate and collaborative; something that makes creative use of remote technology and meets everyone in this community wherever they happen to be at the start of this term. To that end, we have created a Convocation Podcast, which combines audio contributions from students, faculty, and staff all centered around the theme of community, connection, and togetherness. 

How to attend:
Listen using the Soundcloud link below, listen through B-RAD, or read transcripts of the speeches


crowd watches man playing drums

Bennington College Convocation

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Convocation Speaker
Manuel Gonzales, Literature Faculty Member

Additional Remarks
Tonya Strong, Director of Admissions
Flo Gill '22, SEPC Chair
Laura Walker, President

Reading of an excerpt of the Commencement Statement
Jennifer Rohn, Drama Faculty Member

Sound Constructions (2018 | Documentation Excerpt)
by Senem Pirler, Nina C. Young, Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti



The Music of Convocation

Sound Constructions (2018 | Documentation Excerpt) by Senem Pirler, Nina C. Young, Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti

Sound Constructions is a site-specific performative sound installation created on and for the Montalvo Arts Center. Using a combination of found objects from the grounds, such as eucalyptus tree barks, and sound sculptures built from industrial materials, the mobile sculptures invite interplay. By choosing specific found objects, we amplify only certain sounds that normally might not be heard. The installation and our improvisation is an exploration of these objects and presence, asking: How does taking things out of their natural environment create tension? As we have collected these things in order to build an environment, how do we touch them, give them focus, and ultimately let them go? 

Resources for Well-Being 

SEPC Chair Flo Gill '22 has created a resource document in which she has compiled the information new (and current) Bennington students might need to know about how to access campus support systems. 

Read the guide > 

Convocation Through the Years...

As we celebrate the start of another academic year with Convocation, we think of former faculty member Milford Graves, whose iconic "heartbeat" drumming rhythms and spirited performances were a signature part of Convocation for many years. 

In 2018, Graves was diagnosed with amyloid cardiomyopathy, otherwise known as "stiff heart syndrome," and was told he had six months to live. Today, however, Graves is still living at his home in Queens, both exceeding his medical expectations and furthering his lifelong work on heartbeats—now using his own health as a subject, as was recently featured in The New York Times

Image of three students in masks Welcoming the Class of 2025

This fall, the Bennington community welcomed over 250 new students to the College. 

Image of students playing instruments Convocation 2020 Speeches

Text for the 2020 Convocation Podcast speeches by Manuel Gonzales, Tonya Strong, and Flo Gill '22.

Convocation 2019 Convocation Welcomes Class of 2023

On September 3, 2019, the Bennington community gathered to celebrate the start of the academic year and welcome over 180 new students to the College. 

Convocation 2019 Nothing Hypothetical About Action

Dina Janis was the faculty speaker at Convocation 2019. She stressed the importance of preparation and action as necessary first steps to discovery and education.

"Regardless of how one finds oneself preparing for the act of creation, there is no substitute for time on your feet actually doing the thing, rather than thinking about doing it," said Janis. "There is nothing hypothetical about action." 

Eve Mefferd What You Know is Powerful

Eve Mefferd '19, chair of the Student Educational Policies Committee, was the student speaker at Convocation 2019. She spoke about the multitude of ways in which Bennington students can get involved and make their voices heard on campus and beyond. "As a Bennington student, protest and change-making are your inheritance," said Mefferd. 

Convocation 2019 Kindness is a Gift

Rage Hezekiah, First-year and International Student Counselor, was the staff speaker at Convocation 2019. She shared her perspective as a relative newcomer to Vermont and the inspiration she finds in her daily work with students. She also urged the community to "be gentle with each other." 

"I trust our collective ability to have hard conversations, and find common ground," said Hezekiah. "This doesn’t mean we always have to agree, but that we can treat each other with tenderness, trusting that we are committed to sharing this space, and making this place our collective home."

Michael Dumanis Use Your Antlers

Michael Dumanis was the faculty speaker at Convocation 2018. He charged the campus community with stretching their expectations to "swerve, and get overwhelmed and lost, and make a few discoveries along the way, and find yourself at least a little changed."

Convocation 2018 Convocation Welcomes Class of 2022

On September 4, 2018, the Bennington community gathered to celebrate the start of the academic year and welcome over 200 new first-year students to the College. 

Eve Mefferd Radical Caring

Eve Mefferd '19, chair of the Student Educational Policies Committee, was the student speaker at Convocation 2018. She spoke about the "enormous potential for creating leverage points" for which Bennington's flexible curriculum and student-centered education allows. 

Convocation Critical Mass of Change

Holly Andersen, project manager for the Planning Office, was the staff speaker at Convocation 2018. She shared her career over the course of nearly a decade spent at Bennington, reflected upon her experiences as a first-generation college student, and encouraged students to take advantage of the family found on campus.