Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis addresses the Class of 2017 at the President's Convocation for First-Year Students.

Photographer: Ben Wirtz Siegel


Nearly 4,000 new Bobcats make their way up Richland Avenue following the President's Convocation for First-Year Students.

Photographer: Ben Wirtz Siegel


Delfin Bautista, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Center, provides first-year students with information about the LGBT Center at the Campus Involvement Fair held Aug. 25 on the College Green.

Photographer: Ben Wirtz Siegel

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Class of 2017 inducted into OHIO family at President’s Convocation for First-Year Students

More than 4,000 newest members of Bobcat Nation were officially inducted into the Ohio University family during the President's Convocation for First-Year Students held Sunday at the Convocation Center.

The event marked the first time the Ohio University Class of 2017 was gathered in one place and served as a welcome, a pep rally, and their official induction into the Bobcat family. The next time this class will be brought together will be Commencement in the spring of 2017.

Led by Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis, the ceremony included welcoming remarks, introductions, and words of wisdom from members of the University's faculty and staff as well as from Katie Thoburn, a junior in the Patton College of Education.

Thoburn won the opportunity to address the incoming class after entering a video contest over the summer. She asked the first-year students to "adventure daringly" as they begin their journey at OHIO. In preparing for her remarks, Thoburn said she asked her fellow Bobcats to share some advice, which she compiled into an open letter to the Class of 2017. Among the advice from upperclassmen:

  • Ask before you pet the Ohio University Police Department horses.
  • Save money whenever possible. Good Fellas, Big Momma's, Bagel Street, Brennen's and textbooks add up quickly.
  • Be a go-getter. Wake up each morning expecting to work hard for your goals. The world makes way for the person who knows what they want. Be prepared to stop at nothing to achieve your goals. Persevere when you experience road blocks, and know with certainty, you are always supported by the Bobcat family.

"It is your goal to pack these next four years with as many friends, memories and opportunities as possible," she said.

Elizabeth Sayrs, chair of Faculty Senate and a professor in the School of Music, welcomed the Class of 2017 on behalf of the OHIO faculty and issued the students their first assignment: Get to know – really know – at least one member of the University's faculty.

"Out of gratitude, we feel a responsibility to give back to you, the Class of 2017, what we have been given by our own colleagues and faculty members," Sayrs said. "Make sure you get to know us and we get to know you."

As the incoming students – many of them wearing Ohio University T-shirts provided by the University – listened to each speaker, many of them took the opportunity to snap photos with their cell phones. Executive Vice President and Provost seized on the opportunity to snap a couple photos of the Class of 2017, commenting that each year she wonders, "What is this class going to be like?".

"The next four years are going to go by very quickly," Benoit said. "But the images you have of today, both the ones on your smartphones and the ones in your head, will tell the story of who you are as a class and, more importantly, who you are as an individual. What kind of profile are you building? … What story will your pictures, the ones on your cameras, tell about your time at Ohio University?"

The Singing Men of OHIO, under the direction of Daniel Hall, led the incoming students in the singing of the Ohio University Alma Mater and Fight Song, building in the excitement of the event before President McDavis took the stage.

The University's 20th president and himself an OHIO alumnus, McDavis welcomed the Class of 2017, referring to them as the best and brightest students from around Ohio, the country and the world.

"You are a class that is special," he said. "You don't know the time and energy that was invested in recruiting this fine class."

McDavis shared with the students the challenges he faced as a first-year student at Ohio University in 1966 and how he overcame them.

"You may fall down. You may not succeed right out of the gate, but remember, you came here for a reason," he said. "Keep your eye on the prize."

McDavis reminded the Class of 2017 of the University's five core values – community, citizenship, civility, character and commitment – and encouraged the students to take care of themselves, each other and the place they now call home.

He also shared with them the promise of Ohio University – the promise that OHIO makes to its students and the promise that OHIO asks its students to make to themselves.

"Your family brought you to this campus because you have a dream," McDavis said. "If you give everything you've got to this journey, we will give you back double. … And at the end of this journey, you will come back to this building and we will celebrate your accomplishments with your family."

McDavis' words were embraced by the students.

"I liked how President McDavis was really into what he was saying," said Brea Burks, a first-year student from Reynoldsburg majoring in communications. "I felt like he was speaking to me as an individual."

"I liked this event a lot," said Christina Suglio, a nursing student from Strongsville. "It made me feel better hearing President McDavis encourage us to never give up. The whole thing just left me with a positive feeling."

"I thought the entire event was really motivational and inspiring," said Heather Sabruno, a communications major from Cleveland.

Following the convocation ceremony, McDavis and the Marching 110 led the Class of 2017 in a procession up Richland Avenue to the College Green and through College Gate, symbolizing their entry into the OHIO community.

After passing through College Gate, students had the opportunity to learn about the many ways they can become involved in the OHIO community at the Campus Involvement Fair. More than 250 campus organizations were on hand to share information with the newest members of the Bobcat family.

"I'm very excited to start classes and to get involved in some of the programs on campus," said Colin Trubee, a media arts and studies major from Columbus.