Ohio Wesleyan’s Incoming Students Urged to Envision a Better World
No hindsight is necessary for this Class of 2020.
With an eye toward the future, Ohio Wesleyan University President Rock Jones urged the OWU Class of 2020 to begin focusing now on global engagement and leadership. Jones welcomed the new students, and their loved ones, to the Ohio Wesleyan family on Aug. 20 during the University’s 175th convocation celebration.
“We want you to become a global problem-solver,” Jones told each of the incoming students. “And so to that end, we want you to learn to explore complex problems from multiple perspectives and to integrate knowledge across the disciplines.
“The challenges your generation inherits will not be solved in narrow silos of individual thinking,” Jones continued. “They will require the leadership of people who understand connections. The connection between physics and poetry, or the connection between social justice and a strong economy. We want you to think big.”
He also urged the first-year students to “go global” by participating in study-away programs and to “get real experience” through internships, research opportunities, and other programs that help link academic learning with real-world experience.
In addition, Jones urged the Class of 2020 to sign the Arneson Pledge, created by Ben Arneson, a 36-year professor of politics and government and founder of OWU’s Institute for Practical Government and Public Affairs, which now bears his name.
The pledge states: “With a view to serving the public interest and regardless of the nature of my future vocations I pledge that, upon leaving college, I will devote a portion of my time to active and definite participation in public affairs.”
“An OWU education is not just about you,” Jones told the students. “It is about the impact you will have on the world and the role you will play in shaping a more just and civil society, envisioning a better future through entrepreneurial activities that bring new ideas to life, and preserving the planet that gives and sustains all of life.”
Susan Dileno, vice president for enrollment, also welcomed the Class of 2020, sharing that the 527 students represent 36 states and 12 countries, including the United States. More than 52 percent of the U.S. students come from Ohio, with the largest numbers of non-Ohio residents coming from California, Maryland, and Illinois. More than 29 percent of the incoming class is multicultural, with the largest numbers of international students coming from Pakistan, China, India, and the Netherlands.
Dileno also reviewed the myriad accomplishments of the incoming class, noting that 355 were varsity sport participants, including 161 team captains; 90 have been inducted into the National Honor Society; nine were class valedictorians; and 10 were student body or class presidents. In addition, 273 of the incoming students have completed volunteer work or community service, and 21 have participated in foreign exchange study or service.
“You’ve come to us today having accomplished so much in such a short amount of time,” Dileno said. “During your time here, may you become more than you already are and may you enter the outside world with an openness to sharing your talents and gifts with those around you.”
For those who declared their academic interests, the largest numbers will pursue pre-professional majors, such as dentistry, medicine, or optometry. This is followed by students who plan to major in business/business administration, zoology, and health and human kinetics.
Jessica Choate, president of the Wesleyan Council on Student Affairs, welcomed the Class of 2020 on behalf of all OWU students. Choate, a senior politics and government major from Cincinnati, also encouraged the incoming class to take advantage of educational opportunities both inside and outside the classroom.
“You will soon come to realize that Ohio Wesleyan’s faculty is unlike any other,” she said. … “This is something that sets Ohio Wesleyan apart, that will make your time here unique. Take advantage of their knowledge, their patience, their willingness to help, and, of course, if they ever invite you over for dinner, don’t pass up that free meal. …
“Lastly, I hope that you take time to recognize how amazing your fellow Bishops are,” Choate concluded. “They are from all over the world and they can teach you more than you’d expect. They can teach you about different cultures, about acceptance, and about new and different ideas that you may have been unwilling or unable to hear before becoming a Bishop. … You are ready to continue on your journey at Ohio Wesleyan and to make these four years your own.”
On behalf of the faculty, Julide Yazar, associate professor of economics, welcomed the new students, urging them to embrace the OWU experience and make the most of the college educations.
“College is the greatest opportunity you will ever have for personal development,” Yazar said. “Don’t let your days pass by delving into what is routine, familiar, and cozy. Choose classes that expose you to new ideas and alternative ways of thinking. Step out of your comfort zones.”
Aaron Granger, Class of 1993, also urged the incoming students to get engaged with the OWU community.
“Instead of Pokémon Go, let’s start Battling Bishops Go,” said Granger, a Columbus attorney. “Leave your rooms of solitude and actively find each other. Connect with each other. Be ravenous about your education experience. It will serve you well.”
The convocation – or “calling together” of Ohio Wesleyan’s newest students, their families, and the campus community – marks one of only two times that the full Class of 2020 will gather together while attending the university. The second time will be for commencement, when they assemble in May 2020 to receive their diplomas.