Members of the Class of 2017 hold lit candles during the Twilight Induction Ceremony.

Hens by candlelight

Twilight Induction Ceremony welcomes Class of 2017 to UD

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3:04 p.m., Aug. 27, 2013--The University of Delaware welcomed members of the Class of 2017 to campus during the Twilight Induction Ceremony held Monday evening, Aug. 26, on the South Green.

Continuing a candle lighting tradition that began last year, UD President Patrick Harker invited the newest Blue Hens into a community of thinkers, dreamers, innovators and trailblazers.

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“This is the first time all of you are gathered together as a class,” Harker said. “The next and final time will be four years from now in Delaware Stadium, when I’ll congratulate you as UD’s newest graduates and wish you luck and resolve as you face new challenges and opportunities ahead.”

Harker remarked that for the incoming freshman class, the opening of the academic year marks the start of an incredible journey in which members will pursue enriching passions and achieve new levels of personal fulfillment.

“That’s going to make the days, months and years you spend here among the most memorable, most special days of your life,” Harker said. “You’re Blue Hens now.”

Harker challenged members of the freshman class to make the most of this experience and uphold the University’s most deeply held principles, and he encouraged them to embrace diversity and respect differing points of view.

“Every single one of you is special and every one of you has value,” Harker said. “”It’s only when we include the full range of human experience and expression that we create the kind of environment that inspires rigorous thinking.” 

The 3,826 freshmen are now part of a campus community of 21,855 graduate and undergraduate students -- enhanced by a worldwide network of 161,000 alumni -- who can provide support and encouragement, he said.

“Profit from the brilliance that will surround you here,” Harker said. “Feel the fire in many minds working together.” 

Harker also urged members of the Class of 2017 to build a legacy that honors faculty dedication and the achievement of past scholars and those yet to come to UD.

“Together, we have absolute faith in the proposition that we hold the power to recast what we believe, and what we believe is possible,” Harker said. “It’s all potential energy for you right now. It’s all in the future.” 

Provost Domenico Grasso, also a recent arrival at UD, said students should seize the opportunity to choose how they will spend their time over the next four years and how to make the most of it. 

“This is an independent journey, and your professors, your advisers, your classmates and friends will help you along the way,” Grasso said. “But, the freedom to figure out what challenges you, what engages you, what compels you to deeper thought and meaningful action — that’s the fun part, and that discovery is yours to uncover.”

Grasso also reminded the Class of 2017 to add to a legacy of national and international achievement.

“In the coming days, weeks, months and years, you will cross this college Green countless times,” Grasso said. “On occasion, I ask you to take just a second to stop and simply look around, to soak in the magic of this wonderful place, this verdant campus, nourished and grown over centuries from fertile minds like your own.”

George Watson, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, invited students to push the boundaries of their knowledge by taking courses in the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences.

“Read a lot. Write a lot. Ask a lot of questions,” Watson said. “I urge you to discover yourself by becoming engaged in all the opportunities UD has to offer and make the most of your next four years, and remember that you are now part of something bigger than yourself.”

Dawn Thompson, interim vice president of student life, asked students to light each other’s candles as symbols of their new life as students and future UD alumni. 

“I encourage you to think about the special values of the community you are entering,” Thompson said. “I encourage you to think about what becoming a Blue Hen means to you.” 

Following welcoming remarks from leaders of several student organizations, the ceremony concluded with remarks from Ken Jones, a member of the Class of 1980 and vice president of the UD Alumni Association. 

“It’s an honor for me, on behalf of the more than 161,000 living alumni, to welcome you to the Blue Hen family,” Jones said. “The Alumni Association believes that a Blue Hen’s connection to the University of Delaware continues beyond the years that you are a student. It is lifelong to us, so we live and operate by the motto, ‘Blue Hens Forever.’” 

Jones also asked the newest Blue Hens to wear their new pins bearing the UD seal and to continue a tradition by signing the class banner. 

“The banner will follow you throughout your time on campus and as an alum,” Jones said. “Be sure you’ve added your signature to the banner at the conclusion of this ceremony.” 

An ice cream social featuring UDairy Creamery treats followed the Twilight Induction Ceremony.

Article by Jerry Rhodes

Photos by Evan Krape and Lane McLaughlin

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