Vassar College Convocation

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Welcome everyone! I am thrilled to be with you here on campus together—at last!

Convocation is a tradition at Vassar that began in 1865. In those early days, Convocation was a sermon given by the first president, President Raymond (yes, after whom Raymond House is named). Not to worry, that tradition is no longer, and I have no intention of giving a sermon.

By 1914, Convocation had expanded to be a parade of faculty and students in full regalia; and I thank Professor Lotto, our Faculty Marshall, for helping us to reenact this ritual. Every Convocation has been held in the chapel building since it was erected in 1904, except during the 1960s, when the ceremony was held here in the outdoor theater, and last year, when it was held on Zoom, and this year—when we are back in the outdoor theatre. Regardless of where we are, today you join the long academic tradition of Convocation, common to all Vassar students, when we are “called together.”

This work of coming together as a learning community is not easy, particularly for those of us raised in the United States where so many have valued individualism and freedom over mutual interdependence. Yet, as the pandemic, persistent racial inequities, and the climate emergency have made tragically clear, our futures are inextricably tied to each other.  We are in this together.

The Convocation tradition is the official opening of the academic year at Vassar. May the year be full of learning, growth, and togetherness for the good of all.

—Elizabeth H. Bradley, President, Vassar College