President Bottoms Welcomes DePauw's 170th Entering Class
August 19, 2006
August 19, 2006, Greencastle, Ind. - [Download Video: "The Next Four Years" - 2208kb] "You are entering DePauw certainly at a time when furthering and deepening your education is as important as it has been in my entire tenure," President Robert G. Bottoms, who is in his twenty-first year leading the University, told 639 incoming students at this afternoon's opening academic convocation. "We live in a troubled world," Dr. Bottoms told the 170th class to enroll at DePauw who, with their parents, filled the Performing Arts Center's Kresge Auditorium. "The discussions that go on this year and during your four years here will make it very clear to you that college is a lot more than just a continuation of high school. You've not just entered the 13th grade."
The Class of 2010, with the help of family members, began moving into their residence halls early this morning, unloading the contents of overloaded cars, minivans, and even U-Hauls into the rooms that they will call home as they begin their college careers.
The entering class is among the most diverse and academically talented in the University's history. Seventeen percent of the incoming students are from multicultural backgrounds, and another 34 students arrive from foreign countries (19 international exchange students and 15 matriculants). The incoming class has more international students than any in at least nine years. All told, the entering class represents 36 states and 33 countries (including the United States) (read more in this previous story).
Our increasingly global society was a focus of President Bottoms' remarks at the 3 p.m. convocation. [Download Audio: "Inextricably Bound" - 163kb] "Whether you come from Rushville, Indiana, or Mumbai, India, or Tokyo, Japan -- no matter where you are from -- the world in which you live will be made up of foreigners," Bottoms told DePauw's new students. "Your futures are inextricably bound up with people who have different pasts, who speak differently, and who think differently."
DePauw's 18th president warned the new undergraduates about "the threat of tribalism... meaning we only have confidence in the people who are in our tribe. We only have a moral obligation to those people who eat the same food we eat and speak the same language we speak and we believe the same things we do."
Pointing toward the faculty members seated behind him, Bottoms asserted, [Download Video: "A Most Important Gift" - 3119kb] "We, all of us, have spent some time thinking about a college curriculum, extracurricular discussions, how we might combat tribalism, how we could introduce you as citizens in this new world, (and) how we could help you learn to cooperate. There is a lot of diversity in your class. You will have the opportunity to work with people from all backgrounds, and this may be one of the most important gifts we offer to you, so take advantage of it. When you're making friends (or) assigned group tasks in class, don't just seek out folks who look and think like you. Learn to work together with the difference in your class."
President Bottoms also asked the Class of 2010 to consider the question, "What does it mean to be an American citizen?" Noting that young Americans are voting in record low numbers and tell pollsters that the political process is distasteful, he insisted, [Download Audio: "Democracy and Education" - 253kb] "American democracy can be uplifting, and I hope you find that during your time at DePauw, both as you participate in the community here and as you study in your classes, (that) you begin to see that education can be used for the common good of our country. And your education can be used, I hope, to promote justice and caring for one another. American democracy can be inclusive, it can call forth the very best in us. And it calls on us to examine the willingness to sacrfice; that what might be good for me as an individual might not be best for the country as a whole, and I should learn to live for the common good and not just what I want."
We are America, Bottoms told the crowd, asserting, [Download Video: "Illusions vs. Reality" - 1918kb] "What I'm trying to say is we need to recover in our democracy the understanding that what is really disempowering is somehow believing that a small number of experts can be trusted to make all the decisions for our lives; that regular people like us -- educated people like us -- need to fully participate in our democracy and use our education as we think about the future of America to separate illusions from reality."
DePauw's president also called upon the incoming class to ponder another question: "What does it mean to be a good person?" He called on the students to spend the next four years developing "a personal philosophy of doing good... We are most energized in life when we have purpose and meaning," Bottoms declared.
In conclusion, President Bottoms said, [Download Video: "A Final Message" - 1733kb] "Use DePauw for all that we offer. Take advantage of the diversity that we have in our student body and our faculty: there is a true sense in which we did it all or you. We know that you will not, as students, solve all the problems of our republic. But you can begin to be involved, and prepare yourself for involvement, and you can decide what you stand for."
After the convocation, students met with their faculty advisers, while parents attended information sessions. At 5 p.m., the new students will begin saying their farewells to family members. Evening activities include an opening night luau.
The 2005-06 admission year smashed records, as 4,171 students applied to DePauw, an increase of more than 600 from the year before. The new students include 599 first-year undergraduates, 21 transfers, and 19 international exchanges.
See a schedule of orientation activities by clicking here. Classes for the fall semester begin Wednesday.Back