Convocation – September 3, 2015

To the parents, families and friends who are here today. To the Trustees of the College who honor us by being present today. To the members of the Faculty upon whom the future of these students depends, to our Administrators and staff who guide the work of the College every day.

And most importantly to our new students – we welcome you to this beautiful campus and everything that Mount Ida has to offer to you.  This day is about you and the beginning your College life with us.

So I am going to ask you to do something for me.  How many of you have your cell phone with you?
Ok-stand up take them out and take a photo of yourself – take a selfie – yes, go ahead it’s ok.  Help others who don’t have phones take a group selfie.

Ok – now listen to me for a few minutes.  The word “selfie” was accepted by the Oxford English Dictionary in November 2013 as “self-portrait taken with a digital camera to share on a social network like Instagram or Snap Chat”.  They are easy to create, easy to share, easy to control – not quite like the rest of our lives.  It is a momentary picture of yourself.

But the word “self” has a much longer and deeper history, a deeper meaning, more important to the journey you are about to begin at Mount Ida.  One of the best ancient definitions of self comes from the Greek “egkrates” or “egkrateia”, [eng-krat-i-ah] which means “true mastery from within, “patience” and “endurance.”

While the selfie is momentary egkrateia [eng-krat-i-ah] “true self” refers to individuality, character – one’s better self.

Mount Ida is a place that takes you on a journey, not for the moment, but for your future, to build the character and promise that is inside each of you.  Mount Ida has helped students this way since its founding 116years ago.  This is a school catalogue from 1915.  I think the most important sentence in the catalogue for us today is this one.  “Individualism is the fundamental principle upon which this school is conducted. This school endeavors to make it possible for any student to do in their educational work just what they desire to accomplish.”

We will help you build a different, more permanent selfie than the photo you just took, but we need your help.

I ask each of you to take the time, beginning today and every day that you are here to meet someone new, take a course that you would never expect to, have lunch with a professor, come talk to me, travel abroad, help out at a high school, a native American reservation, join us for a play in Boston, be in a play on campus.

Why, because this is the place of dreams.  Here is where you shape your future and your future self and because here is where you become complete individually, where you become your own self, your better self.

We will be there with you every step of the way, all of us faculty, staff, coaches, administrators, but we need your help.  Get out of your rooms every day and have that goal.

We will give you those opportunities – you need to meet the challenge. We know you can – but you need to use your time wisely:

  • Be open to meet new people
  • Be open to different ideas
  • Our task is not to protect students from words and ideas that they will inevitably encounter, colleges should do all they can to equip students to thrive in a world full of words and ideas that they cannot control.”

Our principles regarding the free expression of ideas remain as expressed by Thomas Jefferson two centuries ago upon the founding of the University of Virginia.

“This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human

Mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate

Any error so long as reason it left free to combat it.”

We believe that these words express the responsibility of American colleges and universities.  Open and free discussion, free from threat or harm.

What is new, challenging and, untested makes people the best version of themselves, and truly transforms them and their communities.

So freshman, women and men of Mount Ida, use your time here well.

And that selfie you just took – take one again at Commencement.  You will look a little different- more mature and knowing – but the real difference will be on the inside, where it really counts, we will have helped you become your own self – your better self to go into the real world – to be the success we know you will be – and both you and all of us at Mount Ida will be very very proud.

We welcome each and every one of you, your parents, families and friends to the Mount Ida community.  Each of you is our future.  This is the place to make your dreams your own reality.

Welcome to one of America’s great small colleges – welcome to Mount Ida and may your days here be filled with wonder and joy.

Thank you!!

For the high school juniors and seniors who spent a week at Mount Ida College immersed in the School of Design’s 2015 Summer Design Week, a highlight, to be sure, were the field trips that took them behind the doors of the new world headquarters of Converse, to the Boston Design Center and on a tour of Neoscape.

Fashion Industry Marketing & Management (FIMM) majors were hosted by Laurie Manos, Head of Consumer Insights, who, along with the Converse team gave the grand tour, talked about the role of research and then walked the students through the design process and product development stages. Converse, which had just introduced their new Chuck II sneakers a few days before, stressed the importance of emerging fashion talent and excited the students with thoughts of college internships. “They really rolled out the red carpet for our group,” says Kathleen Potter, head of the FIMM program. “We were privileged, indeed to be given this very rare opportunity.”


While FIMM was engaged at Converse, Interior Design participants were exploring the Boston Design Center and their premiere collection of showrooms with floor-to-ceiling design products. Alumni from Mount Ida’s Interior design program were happy to host the students and show off their products. Alumna Amy Kearns talked about working for high-end manufacturer Leight Kitchens and Rachel Murphy at Downsview Kitchens, Caroline Pierce at Porcelanosa and Chelsea Smith at United Marble Fabrications were among the group of proud alumni, happy to share their career experiences. Two other alums, Christine Havey and Kristin Miner, enthralled the students with the complexities and pleasures of office design.

The students were then let loose to dig through the fabric and wallpaper samples, leaving with arms full of raw materials to use for their final Design Week projects.

Down the road, students interested in animation, game art and digital visualization were welcomed to Neoscape, a local digital design firm that creates 3C digital environments to help visualize what a given architectural space could look like, or be used for. Vincent LaCour, a digital artist, gave the group a tour of the work areas where they met an artist who explained he produces 30 drawings a day and another artist who creates 3D images for animations. Then it was into the Green Screen area where actors are superimposed into virtual worlds to create more realistic experiences for the viewer. Before leaving, they got a look at the equipment room with all the makings of a film studio and a walkthrough of the production process from story board to previsualization and first to final draft.

The students gained insight into how they might apply what they learn in animation, game art and digital visualization to different career tracks. One student said “I was really shocked to see how much I could do with what I learned in my game art class. I never thought of using 3D modeling like they do at Neoscape.”

At the end of Design Week, when the students presented their final projects, each could look back at an individual experience, but they all shared the feelings expressed by one classmate, “Design Week was amazing. I learned so much, and it really helped me figure out what I want to do.”

For us at the School of Design, says Dean Jason Donati, “that’s what it’s all about. We want to open minds and then open doors. These students are the designers of tomorrow and there’s no limit to what they can accomplish.”