30th Annual Freshman Convocation

A University of Washington welcome for freshmen, their friends and families.

Freshman Convocation

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President tells entering class, “You are all international students.”

“You are all international students,” was the message President Michael Young delivered to the incoming class at Freshman Convocation on Sunday.

Before a nearly-packed house of students and family members in the Alaska Airlines Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion, President Young welcomed students from around the world in their native languages and told them that the challenges our world faces are global in nature and that they need to prepare themselves as global citizens.  “Our students from Beijing and Saudi Arabia are international students, but so are our students from Bellingham and Spokane.”

The newest members of the Husky family were given buttons that read, “iStudent”.  “The “i” in iStudent means international,” said the President. “And from now on, when people ask me how many international students we have at UW, my answer will be simple: All of them.  ALL OF YOU.”

Professor of Philosophy Ron Moore opened the proceedings with a talk about University tradition and the purpose of ceremonial occasions, which serve to “punctuate the inevitable flow of experience” and allow us to reflect on that experience.   “It’s all too easy in our busy, modern world to be thinking about breakfast while we are having a shower, then thinking about a history assignment while we are gulping down breakfast, then thinking about plans for a lunch date while we’re sitting in our history class,” Moore said.

Citing the work of philosopher John Dewey, Moore encouraged the students to enjoy each experience with its beginning, middle, and end.  “Stop!  Enjoy the shower–with its beginning, middle, and end–and when it’s over, say to yourself “Now THAT was a shower!”

Quoting from Harry Potter’s Hogwarts headmaster Aldus Dumbledore, ASUW President Michael Kutz told the students, “We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.”  The Husky experience, he said, “is not something you do alone.”  He urged them to remember they are inherently valuable and talented, “and so is the person sitting next to you” and advised them to find people who reminded them of that fact daily.  “You will become a version of yourself that you never imagined,” he said, ” a full grown Husky, an unstoppable force in this world for progress, inclusion, and change.”

Dr. Ed Taylor, Dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs, introduced the incoming class, who came to the UW from 45 different states and 43 countries.  He listed some of their high schools and noted that nearly 30% of them are the first in their families to go to college.  Using music from the Beatles, Katy Perry, and Marvin Gaye, he asked them, “What will your theme song be?  What story will it tell?”

With music from the Louis Armstrong classic, “What a Wonderful World,” providing the sonic backdrop, he ended by asking the parents to look down upon their sons and daughters and “just take a moment and think about how far they’ve come and why there is good reason to always be hopeful.”

Provost Ana Marie Cauce introduced the faculty and highlighted three faculty members who involve undergraduates in their work or help undergrads pursue their own research. Professor of mechanical engineering, Ashley Emery, professor of forest and environmental sciences, John Marzluff, and lecturer in anthropology, Holly Barker, were all introduced and asked to stand and be recognized.  Provost Cauce told the students they would have opportunities to engage in exciting work, even as undergraduates.  “The world of tomorrow is being created right here at the University of Washington, and you will be an important part of that creative process – perhaps much sooner than you think.

The President’s Picnic followed the convocation on the Rainier Vista Lawn, where new students and their families were able to chat informally with the President and members of the faculty and administration.  Participants enjoyed the music (the Husky Band and a student jazz trio) and delicious food from Laurel Bay Catering, and some were lucky enough to win a copy of the book, The Fountain and the Mountain, which chronicles the 100-year history of our campus.

The President and his wife, Marti, graciously and tirelessly welcomed all of our new students, signed their programs and books, and posed for photographs, which will be sent to the new students and their families at no charge.

All in all, in was a glorious beginning to a promising new year.


 Event Broadcast and Webcast

UWTV logo
UWTV will rebroadcast Freshman Convocation (channel 27) on the following dates:


  • Friday, September 27 at 6:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, September 28 at 8:00 a.m.
  • Sunday, September 29, at 1:00 p.m.
  • Monday, September 30, at 2:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, October 1 at 8:00 p.m.

A webcast of Freshman Convocation will be available from UWTV following the ceremony.

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