The 2009-2010 academic year at St. Mary’s University is underway. Fall semester classes began yesterday, Tuesday, Aug. 18. On Monday, incoming freshman and transfer students participated in Academic Convocation, a more than 20 year St. Mary’s tradition of being welcomed into the StMU family by faculty, staff and the Marianist community.

St. Mary’s newest students were welcomed by President Charles L. Cotrell, Ph.D. and introduced to the traditions and expectations of the St. Mary’s academic community. Just as graduation marks the completion of students’ college education, Academic Convocation marks the beginning. As part of the ceremony, faculty and staff dress in full academic regalia.

President Cotrell led the students, faculty and staff in the “Presentation of Light” ceremony, where candles are lit from the main candle flame symbolizing knowledge, civic engagement and spiritual development. The new students gave a “Statement of Intent” pledging a commitment to their education. President Cotrell, faculty, staff and the Marianists also gave the new students a blessing of good luck for their coming years at StMU. Students were then able to meet and have lunch with the faculty within their majors. St. Mary’s Academic Convocation is designed to be an important part of giving our new students an initial sense of belonging to the institution.

Members of the freshman class of 2009 have also experienced another first – moving into St. Mary’s newest residence hall. Nearly all of Founders Hall’s 81,000 square feet was a bustle of activity for move-in weekend. With a full capacity of 278 residents, approximately 85 checked in last Wednesday, Aug. 12, but the remaining 193 checked in on Sunday, Aug. 16.

The co-ed residence hall is for first year students only and features include a cyber cafe, Internet “port-per-pillow” rooms wired for cable and wireless internet, online laundry monitoring, a grand courtyard and meeting and prayer spaces. Work began in March 2008 and only took 16 months to complete. Founders Hall is St. Mary’s first new residence hall in nine years.

It is named for the four founders of St. Mary’s Institute (the forerunner of today’s St. Mary’s University): School Director Brother Andrew Edel, Brother Nicholas Koenig, Brother Jean Laignoux and the Rev. Xavier Mauclerc.

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