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Convocation 2016

Convocation 2016

On Wednesday, August 31st 2016, the Pine Manor College community came together to celebrate the start of the 2016-17 academic year.

Professor William Stargard, College Marshal,
led the speakers and faculty and called the ceremony to order. 

Diane Mello-Goldner, Dean of the College, welcomed new and returning students to Pine Manor’s 106th year. Dean Mello-Goldner spoke about the meaning of Convocation – “At Pine Manor, our tradition is that Convocation is a time that the entire community gathers to welcome our new and returning students. So welcome First Year Students, and welcome back returning students.” Dean Mello-Goldner gave special recognition to the Pine Manor returning seniors – “ We look forward to celebrating the completion of your academic success later in May.”


President Thomas M. O’Reilly, who began his presidency in June 2016, addressed the full college community for the first time. “This year’s convocation is particularly special to me because it is also my first convocation as President of Pine Manor. I would like to thank the Board of Trustees for their trust, and to the entire Pine Manor community for allowing me this great and humbling opportunity.” As a “newcomer” President O’Reilly made it a point to acknowledge all newcomers and asked all new students to stand up and be recognized.

Introducing the entering class, President O’Reilly described the make up of the class: “Our first-year class includes 201 new students from 17 states and 13 countries.” “…This diverse fabric is what makes us a rich institution, and it is what adds depth and meaning to each of our individual experiences. We are all unique threads, but by engaging with each other we become a strong fabric, a strong community. We became One Pine Manor College!”

In an opportunity for a learning moment, President O’Reilly asked the audience to repeat after him the word “Welcome” in different languages and received cheers from many of the Pine Manor bilingual students.

President O’Reilly mentioned the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio that took place earlier in August, and quoted the most decorated gymnast in American history, Simone Biles: “Biles said: “Surround yourself with the dreamers, the doers, the believers and thinkers; but most of all surround yourself with those who see greatness within you even when you don’t see it yourself.” “…In choosing Pine Manor College, you’ve taken the first step to achieving exactly that!” President O’Reilly continued “And some of those people are right here with us — will the faculty of Pine Manor, please rise.” The audience responded with a standing ovation. “Members of our faculty” the President continue, ”are known for their quality of teaching, but most of all they are known for their mentorship and for their ability to build relationships that enable each student to grow and reach their full potential.”

In speaking about the idea of one community, One Pine Manor, President O’Reilly took that opportunity to recognize different members of the community: staff as well as Board members and visiting alumnae of Pine Manor who were present in the audience. The president gave special recognition to John Hatch, Director of Grounds and Maintenance and his team for the tremendous work that they are doing, and to the few Pine Manor Alumnae who are current Pine Manor College employees. Addressing the students, President O’Reilly said, “Pine Manor College gives you the access and space to learn, to engage, and to dream – it’s up to you to take advantage of all that! Engage! Speak up! Get involved! Commit to working hard to achieve your own personal goals.”

“Lastly,” O’Reilly concluded, “this beautiful campus is an ideal place for you to have fun with new friends. You are part of a community full of amazing people doing amazing things, and I encourage you to take advantage of each and every moment you are here.”

President O’Reilly re-introduced an old Pine Manor tradition of planting trees in honor of special people and special events. This year, a beautiful Blue Atlas Cedar (Cedrus Atlantica ‘Glauca’) was chosen and it will be planted in the next couple of weeks (see picture).


PMC's Student Government

Greetings from the Student Government Association (SGA) were delivered by four student representatives: Oscar Estrada ‘18 (Treasurer), Legacy Guinyard ‘19 (Secretary), Jonathan Higgenbotham ‘18 (Vice President), and Mary Owen ’18 (President). All four had words of encouragement and invited students to be engaged in our community. They called for all students to “Be the change!” and promised to work hard on behalf of all students so their voices can be heard. “Become a student leader. You want to be on stage? Audition for the fall play. You want to be the next LeBron James? Tryout for the basketball team. Or start your own club! There are so many different ways to get involved and so many different things you can do here at Pine Manor. Whatever you decide to do, have fun, enjoy yourself, because your college years will be some of the most memorable years of your life!”


A special guest speaker was Pine Manor alumna and member of the Board of Trustees, Lise Leist, class of ’73. Leist delivered an inspiring speech recalling her own story of how she came to Pine Manor College. She shared moments of struggle and triumph, grit and perseverance that resonated with everyone in the audience. Like many of our students, Leist is a first-generation college graduate, and her story struck a chord with the class of 2020.
(To read Leist’s full speech click here.)


Wonderfully spirited performances of poetry reading by Anthony Johnson ‘18 and by Oshun ‘19 got the crowd energized in between speakers.

Staci Weber, Dean of Student Affairs

Staci Weber, Dean of Student Affairs, led the students through a community-building activity of signing each other’s Pine Manor College t-shirts. The theatre was buzzing with excitement.

As the signing continued Dean Weber said: “Look around you, we are all as unique as those t-shirts, with their own different colors and signatures. However, all of the t-shirts carry the same Pine Manor logo, as we are all members of one Pine Manor community.”


Professor William Stargard

The recipient of the 2016 Gibson Award, was introduced by Dean Mello-Goldner, to represent the Pine Manor Faculty at Convocation: “Each spring, students are asked to vote for the winner of the Ruth Allinger Gibson ‘26 Teaching Award. I am very pleased to introduce the 2016 Gibson Teaching Award winner, Professor William Stargard.”

Professor Stargard expressed his thanks: “I felt very honored to have been awarded the Gibson Teaching Award last April – an award that means the very most to me, because it is determined by student voting.”

“Community is central to PMC – it’s in our DNA.” Stargard continued, “Community has many different facets, like a beautifully cut diamond. One facet of community is the overarching philosophy that defines our educational structure – I’m speaking specifically of the liberal arts tradition.”

“There is a rich overlap and integration of knowledge in one subject and discipline that flows into another. At PMC the faculty are all dependent on one another. Yes, we are experts in our own fields, but we all know that our subjects and disciplines truly come alive only when we examine them from different perspectives and the under different lenses. That’s the beauty of the liberal arts! When you can make connections from one area of study to another – it’s a great experience!”

“A liberal arts education is your best preparation for the workplace and graduate school. You see, employers and graduate schools get it. They want well-rounded individuals who think outside the box and who can adapt easily to a new task and who can change positions when necessary. You’ll be better prepared for the workplace and graduate school because of your liberal arts education at PMC!”

Checking on how well prepared the students were, Professor Stargard jokingly remarked, “Did anyone bring a phone?”, he then asked everyone to take group selfies and tag them #PMC_Gators.

Dean Mello-Goldner concluded the ceremony and invited the audience to join in for refreshments and conversation with faculty and staff in the lobby of Ellsworth.

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