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University at Albany Opening Convocation Welcomes 2,500 New Freshmen

ALBANY, N.Y. (August 22, 2015) -- University at Albany President Robert J. Jones today welcomed the Class of 2019 at the University's inaugural Opening Convocation ceremony, imploring students to become engaged members of the learning community, be curious about what they don't yet understand, and take advantage of the high level of diversity on the UAlbany campus.

Opening Convocation was the capstone event of first-week activities for UAlbany's 2,540 incoming freshmen and transfer students. The new tradition, which will be held annually on the second day of freshman move-in, filled UAlbany's SEFCU Arena with some 4,000 students, family, friends, and the campus community, complete with a Platform Party and faculty in academic regalia.

While Commencement marks the completion of study, Opening Convocation celebrates a student's entry into higher education. The University inaugurated the Convocation to engage students and parents early on in the traditions and importance of the school's academic mission, to imbue a sense of community, and to spark pride and school spirit.

During the 45-minute ceremony, President Jones unveiled the University's Countdown 2019 website in which a digital clock ticks down the class's time, to the second, steadily for the next four years, to May 19, 2019, the intended date of their Commencement.

"You have 1,365 days to deeply engage in this experience," he said. "This begins your countdown to success."

The Class’s Journey
The incoming students were reminded that they were the first entering class that will be able to join the new College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and could become part of the inaugural class of the new College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, and Cybersecurity -- the only college of its kind in the nation.

The President encouraged them to take advantage of the more than 600 study abroad programs, and other off-campus experiences such as the “Semester in Washington," avail themselves of the 1,200 faculty members in 120 academic fields – the foundation of a comprehensive, public research university, and participate in internships and other experiential learning opportunities that enhance successful careers.

"And we are all here to support you in this great adventure," President Jones said. "This is a partnership, and we are all in this together."

Convocation students

2,500 freshmen of the Class of 2019 arrange themselves for a group photo. (Photos by Brian Busher)

Also addressing the class were James R. Stellar, the University Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs; student Vanessa Salamy of the class of 2017; Vice Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Education Jeanette Altarriba; and Student Affairs Vice President Michael N. Christakis.

In the days following Convocation, the Class of 2019 will be learning first-hand through a full schedule of events and festivities what it means to be a UAlbany Great Dane.

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About the University at Albany
A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than
120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.