It was the first ceremony of its kind at UNE. In illustrating aspects of the centuries-old tradition that links UNE with universities ancient and modern, it helped the newcomers to appreciate the significance of their move to UNE and Armidale as on-campus students.
The Chancellor, the Hon. Richard Torbay, welcomed the new students and, speaking afterwards, said it had been “a wonderful ceremony”.
The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jim Barber, acknowledged the “heart full of hope” with which each of the students was embarking on their degree program, and said: “Our job is to help you realise your dreams.”
“We take an interest in you and your dreams, and we work with you to help them become a reality,” he said.
The ceremony began with a traditional Academic Procession, and the Deputy Chair of UNE’s Academic Board, Associate Professor Nick Reid, emphasised the students’ active role within the University’s “community of scholars and teachers”. “You’ll have plenty of opportunities to voice your opinions,” he said. “We want to hear from you.”
Amanda O’Rafferty, a final-year Arts/Law student, spoke on behalf of current students, urging the new students to take advantage of the many opportunities to become involved in sporting and other extra-curricular activities. “The way you spend your time at UNE is up to you,” she said. “Make the most of it.”
Fergus Frost from Sydney and Georgia Eades from Bellingen, who met yesterday as new residents of UNE’s Duval College, were two of the students at today’s ceremony. Georgia, who will be studying biomedical science, said she was enjoying the friendly atmosphere of the College. “You can just walk up to someone and say ‘Hi!’” she said. “I like it.”
Fergus, who is enrolled in a Bachelor of Business degree program, said he was looking forward to “a completely new life” at UNE and in Armidale, and that he was hoping to play Rugby with a local team.
The Commencement ceremony opened a week-long program of Orientation activities at UNE. The popular Lifesaver Day tomorrow (Tuesday 14 February) will draw new students into a crowded Lazenby Hall, where about 100 stalls will be manned by representatives of student, community and government organisations and local businesses.
Today’s Official Welcome Ceremony for first-year medical students will be the subject of tomorrow’s posting.