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Convocation 2013: Branching Out While Staying Rooted

September 5, 2013

This year’s Convocation ceremony, held September 4, combined old traditions with new ones as Simmons welcomed incoming students and celebrated the achievements of its faculty.

During the morning All-College ceremony, new Provost Katie Conboy delivered her inaugural address to faculty and staff, drawing inspiration from the Simmons seal and the legacy of the late Irish poet Seamus Heaney, whose poem “The Wishing Tree,” she read aloud in tribute.

 "It seems to me that in many ways, Simmons College has become—for all of us—a kind of wishing tree," she said. "We pin dreams and aspirations to it, personal ones and collective ones, theories of how it should branch out, ideas as to how it should stay rooted." 

This year, more than 30 faculty who received internally and externally-funded grants were recognized on stage for their achievements, and Professor of Practice Mary Shapiro was presented with the Faculty/Staff Community Service Award.

“She’s not only a great teacher but an inspiration to many students,” said Scott/Ross Center for Community Service Director Steve London, who presented Shapiro with the award. “We talk a lot at Simmons about ‘student-centered’ and a ‘transformative education.’ These are more than just words to this professor.” Provost Conboy also spoke during the afternoon Undergraduate Honors ceremony, which featured a new tradition involving incoming students, who were asked to respond to the prompt “I have a dream of what I will become.” Students wrote their responses on silk leaves and were invited to the stage by Associate Dean Leanne Doherty to hang them.

“I hope that every experience you have in college has the power to change your dreams into reality,” she said. “We, the members of the Simmons community, cannot wait to assist you with your dreams.”

Later in the program, Professor Mary Jane Treacy recognized 20 senior Academy members for their academic performance, and Dean for Student Life Sarah Neill wove some pieces of Simmons history, past and present, into her address to undergraduate students.

“I wonder what will they be saying about us, this community, 50 years from now in 2063?” she said. “Perhaps they will poke fun at our clunky technology, find some of our ways antiquated, unenlightened, or even silly—but maybe they will see in us the seeds of what will be the next great movement in higher education. I say we give them something to talk about.”