Applause and music from a brass quintet greeted the incoming first-year students on Thursday evening at the Induction Ceremony for the Class of 2016. They marched, two by two, from Swasey Chapel to the Reese~Shackelford Common, where brightly robed faculty flanked their path, cheering and applauding.
The students’ seats each held a red and white tassel to be worn on their graduation caps in 2016. Around the Common, nearly a century’s worth of banners were part of the décor, and a view of the rolling Welsh Hills completed the picturesque scene.
A little history
This year marks Dale Knobel’s 15th as president. In that time, he has welcomed more than 9,700 students to Denison (and promptly sent all of their parents home). He’s presided over ceremonies in Swasey Chapel (before it was fitted for air conditioning, which made for some very warm starts to the school year) and in the Mitchell Center. The ceremony moved to the Reese~Shackelford Common in 2004. (It was held on the Fine Arts Quad in 2006 because most of the grass on the Common had died and was being replaced. Interestingly, President Knobel points out that the Class of 2010 is the only class in the last 15 years that started and finished its Denison career in the same place.)
Even though the Induction has moved around campus over the years, the Common has been one of Knobel’s favorite spots. “The views are unparalleled,” he says. But he does recall one year when the space proved less than ideal: The football team was holding practice in the stadium below with loud music for accompaniment. “The louder we spoke on the Common,” says Knobel, “the louder they turned up the music.” Needless to say, that hasn’t happened since.
Knobel’s tenure has brought some additions to the ceremony, including the 1850s historic college bell that graces the stage at Induction and Commencement. “The bell had gone missing for a number of years,” says Knobel, “and when it returned early in my presidency, we began looking for a good way to put it to work again.” So began the tradition of “ringing” in the class at Induction and ringing it out at Commencement. “Originally, [the bell] had hung in Marsh Hall, built on the site of Higley as the college’s first brick building in 1854,” says Knobel.
He then introduced Hannah Frank ’13, president of the Denison Campus Governance Association, who encouraged the first-year class to create a culture of respect and compassion and to be contributing members of the community.
Julie Houpt ’75, vice president of Institutional Advancement, welcomed them on behalf of Denison’s Society of the Alumni. She invited the two class members of who came from farthest and nearest to join her on the podium to receive the 2016 class banner. They were Ben Khoo from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (5,374 miles) and Laura Beckerley from Granville (528 yards).
Chair of the Faculty Andy Katz encouraged each student to take advantage of the opportunities Denison offers, and the assembled brass quintet played the original “Fanfare for the Class of 2016,” composed by Music Professor Ching-chu Hu.
President Knobel also welcomed the 13 transfer students who joined the Denison student body, and then he charged the 632 members of the Class of 2016 to think of themselves as members of an orchestra working together—understanding, appreciating, and respecting one another, growing as individuals and advancing the whole to make a harmonious experience that will affect the rest of their lives.
The ceremony concluded with the college’s newest generation of students singing their alma mater, “To Denison,” led by nine members of one of the school’s a cappella groups, DU-Wop.