Convocation 2019: “Full speed ahead” into the new academic year

On Thursday, Aug. 22 the campus community came together for Convocation to celebrate the new academic year.

As faculty and staff gathered in nearby Miller Commons to robe in their academic regalia, students new and returning buzzed outside Hayes Auditorium and Broyhill Theatre before entering and taking their seats.

Filling the last open spots in the auditorium, faculty and staff processed in with the sounds of traditional bagpipes in the air.

On the stage sat President Lee King, Provost Todd Lidh, Student Government Association President Jaden Acklin, and Order of the Tower President Amanda Lubkemann. The four academic deans were also on stage, with an additional chair in honor of the late Billy Carver, former dean of the school of natural and behavioral sciences.

It was on the note of Carver’s passing that Dr. King began his opening remarks with the audience.

“Our tone for this convocation is more somber as we continue to grapple with the impact of the untimely death of Dr. Billy Carver,” he began. “Even though he is gone, Billy’s presence will be felt for a long time at Lees-McRae. Dr. Carver filled this community with his humor, his high academic standards, and his uncanny ability to push his students to be their very best.”

Dr. King then announced the permanent naming of a newly renovated laboratory in the Bowman Building, in Carver’s name to honor his legacy.

“The labs were Billy’s passion—his passion to bring only the best education to his students through high-quality learning spaces,” he said.

Nearing the end of his remarks, King left the audience with a proposition: to create a new year’s resolution.

“Even though this day is not January 1, this day does mark a new year,” he said. “A new year filled with opportunities, and new hopes, and new plans. Let’s resolve to live this year full speed ahead with no regrets…and squeeze the most out of each moment that we have here.”  

Following remarks from Acklin, Lidh, and others as well as a performance by the college choral group, The Highlanders, it was time for Professor of Biology Stewart Skeate to present his talk titled, “A Tale of Two Times and Two Places.”

Spanning from his early years at Rutgers University to the present day, his talk highlighted the importance of living in the moment—even though it can seem near impossible at times especially as students prepare for their futures in and out of college.

His talk, accompanied by an entertaining slideshow, emphasized Skeate’s charm and humor that, in addition to his passions for biology, have made him widely admired.

“There will be times when you feel overwhelmed by upcoming papers, assignments, and tests,” he said. “I’m no different, I too obsess and worry about the future. At these times of stress and worry, I look to someone that I have depended on for many years. Someone that knows me like a book and understands my inner feelings and emotions.”

That individual was Skeate’s furry companion, his dog Buckeye.

“When I look at Buckeye I know that he is not fretting about the future, but is instead living in the moment,” he said. “Live in these present moments whether that is in the classroom, on the field, or just hanging out with friends. These will be moments that you cherish for the rest of your lives.”

To finish his talk, Skeate had one more sentiment to share. For this, he jumped back to his first day on campus as a professor.

“In front of the Chaffee building was a sign that read, ‘Lees-McRae College: the college that cares,’” he began. “I loved that message then, and I still do today. [Our faculty and staff] know that the college’s success is dependent on the success of your success, and your success can only happen if all of us here work together and care for each other. Lees-McRae College is the college that cares, and we are Lees-McRae College.”

Watch Convocation 2019

By Nina MastandreaAugust 23, 2019
AcademicsCampus Life