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.
President Mariko Silver read the traditional Bennington Commencement statement, offering it as a framework through which to approach education and the work of the coming year.
Eve Mefferd '19, who chairs the Student Educational Policies Committee, was the student speaker. She spoke about the "enormous potential for creating leverage points" for which Bennington's flexible curriculum and student-centered education allows. Mefferd also encouraged her peers to continue learning from everyone around them, including faculty, staff, and peers on campus, as well as those in the wider communities beyond the College.
Above all, said Mefferd, "care for one another and let that caring be radical."
Holly Andersen, project manager for the Planning Office, was the staff speaker. She shared her career over the course of nearly a decade spent at Bennington. Among the highlights, Andersen remarked upon the historic Commons renovation and the recent agreement to purchase solar power from three Vermont-based solar arrays, which shifts approximately 75% of the College's current electricity use to in-state companies.
Andersen also reflected upon her experiences as a first-generation college student and encouraged current Bennington students to take advantage of the family found on campus.
"The people here are kind and caring," said Andersen. "When you are given the opportunity to provide feedback, tell them what they are doing right first. Hold doors open. Stop at stop signs. Say please and thank you. Learn your housekeeper's name."
Isabel Roche, provost and dean of the College, spoke about the faculty at Bennington and their "productive restlessness."
Faculty "know a lot. About a lot," quipped Roche. "But they aren’t content to recycle what they already know, and constantly model the intellectual rush of what it means to learn something new."
Faculty speaker Michael Dumanis built upon Roche's sentiments with his address. He encouraged students to embrace the reality of life and education at Bennington, even—perhaps especially—when it comes with unexpected challenges and opportunities.
"The faculty and staff are all excited to have the opportunity to share this journey with you as you swerve, and get overwhelmed and lost, and make a few discoveries along the way and find yourself at least a little changed," said Dumanis.