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President Roderick J. McDavis gives words of wisdom to the Class of 2019

Photographer: Ben Siegel

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These students are enjoying the President's Convocation for First-Year Students on Sunday

Photographer: Ben Siegel

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Marching 110 leads the first-year students up Richland Avenue toward College Green

Photographer: Ben Siegel

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President gives Class of 2019 a rousing welcome during First-Year Convocation

Class is largest in school history


Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis gave the Class of 2019 a rousing welcome during the annual President’s Convocation for First-Year Students on Sunday afternoon. 

The president told the more than 4,400 first-year students (largest class in school history) in the Convocation Center that it seemed like yesterday when he was a freshman living in Lincoln Hall. 

He said he remembers wanting to quit school and return home to Dayton, Ohio, after receiving an F grade in his first college test in Psychology 101. However, he said he continued with his education after his parents, friends and professors told him to not give up. 

President McDavis said that his grades improved after he improved his study habits and he never received anything less than a C grade the rest of his academic career. 

"Don't let anyone turn you around," President McDavis told the students. "It's not how you fail; it is how you get up."

President McDavis asked the students to remember and follow the University's five core values: community, citizenship, civility, character and commitment. 

He told the students to treat each other with respect and keep their school pride near to their hearts. He said they did not come to Ohio University for the bars, fests or Halloween and warned them that binge drinking, sexual misconduct and racism will not be tolerated. He also reminded them that they represent Ohio University everywhere they go.

"You came here to get a great education," President McDavis emphatically said. "The Ohio University Promise lives on in you and us. We are a great university because of our people."

The students also received some tips for success from Ford Clark, a senior finance major who upperclassmen voted for to speak to the first-year class. He shared with them the five most important things that being a Bobcat has taught him:

1.  "Use your past as a rocket to the future, not as a ball and chain." He said his mistakes have made him the man he is today and he has learned from them.

2.  "I don't always know where I am headed, but I'm already on my way." He said failing to make a choice out of fear is the single biggest mistake you can make, so do not let the fear of failure cripple your journey.

3.  "Do everything in moderation." He told the students that too much of anything can be bad for you, including studying in the library or eating Big Mamma's Burritos. He urged them to find a balance and have as much fun as possible, but be responsible.

4.  "Be selfish and love yourself, especially the worst parts." He said his father talked him into spending his freshman year at a community college in his hometown of Columbus, instead of attending Ohio University. He said he was miserable and decided to be selfish and transfer to Ohio University for his sophomore year and he has been happy ever since. He urged the students to never stop fighting for what they feel they deserve because they are their own best advocate.

5.  "Always mind your manners." He told the students not to disgrace 211 years of Ohio University history by using their words to shame others. He said small acts of kindness may have never changed the world, but they are the only way we progress as people. 

During the ceremony, the Class of 2019 also heard inspiring words of wisdom from interim Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones, Faculty Senate Chair Beth Quitslund and Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit. 

Student acapella singing groups Section Eight and Title IX taught the students the words to "Alma Mater Ohio" and the University's fight song, "Stand Up and Cheer," respectively.

After the ceremony ended, President McDavis and the Marching 110 led the class up Richland Avenue and through the College Gate on College Green as an official sign of their induction into the Ohio University community.

Kendra Hunter, a first-year student from Sandusky, Ohio, said her favorite part of the Convocation was the president's speech.

"His speech was really cool and exciting because he was really enthused," Hunter said. "Walking here was also fun because we probably won't all be together again until the end of the year."

Jayla Warner, a first-year student from Akron, Ohio, said she also enjoyed the president's speech and especially enjoyed when he told them to not be afraid to fail and to get back up when they do.

"I will remember that President McDavis told us to not judge anyone and to always carry our manners with us," Warner said. "I came here because both of my parents graduated from here and I love the campus. Everyone is so welcoming."

After walking through College Gate, the students were invited to participate in the annual Campus Involvement Fair on College Green. This year, the event hosted tables from about 300 student organizations.