Convocation to welcome new students to campus

August 30, 2017 By Doug Erickson

Thousands of first-year students listen during the Chancellor’s Convocation in 2016. Photo: Jeff Miller

Shanthi Cambala remembers entering the Kohl Center for the Chancellor’s Convocation her freshman year and being shocked — so many people!

“I knew I was going to a large school, but this really put it into perspective,” says Cambala, a senior molecular biology major at UW–Madison from Orland Park, Illinois. “It was also very exciting because in the sea of faces, some of those people, though strangers at the time, would become people who mean so much to me now.”

Cambala will be back at convocation this year, this time joining Chancellor Rebecca Blank on stage as the student speaker.

Shanthi Cambala, a senior molecular biology major from Orland Park, Illinois, will be the student speaker at the convocation ceremony on Sept. 5.

The Chancellor’s Convocation, an annual welcome to incoming freshmen and transfer students, will be held Tuesday, Sept. 5, at the Kohl Center from 10:30 a.m. to noon. About 5,500 to 6,000 students are expected to attend.

The 2017 freshman class is anticipated to be the largest in UW–Madison history at about 6,600 students.

Convocation serves as the formal beginning of the student academic experience, and it’s the only time, until graduation, that students will be in an academic assembly with so many of their classmates. The ceremony is sponsored by the Office of the Chancellor and the Center for the First-Year Experience.

Chancellor Blank will officially welcome the new students, as well as share advice on how they can get the most out of their time at UW–Madison.

Sarah Mangelsdorf, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, will provide the historical context for convocation and introduce students to other members of the university’s leadership.

Roberta Hill, a professor of English and American Indian studies and director of the American Indian Studies Program, will offer the welcome on behalf of Wisconsin’s First Nations. Patrick Sims, vice provost and chief diversity officer, will speak on behalf of faculty.

Cambala, the student speaker, was selected by the Center for the First-Year Experience from a pool of students who applied for the honor.

“My main goal is to get them excited for what lies ahead,” she says. “I hope I can put them in the right mindset so that they can open themselves up fully to all the university has to offer.”

The a cappella group Redefined and the Wisconsin Brass Quintet will provide music for the event.

As is tradition, students will head to the exits after their inaugural rendition of “Varsity” and receive a free copy of the book selected for this year’s common reading program, Go Big Read. The book is “Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance, a personal reflection on upward mobility in America as seen through the lens of a white working-class family in the Midwest.