While classes began in August on Wiley's campus, the College officially ushered in its 144th academic year Tuesday at the President's Fall Convocation with representatives from faculty, staff, the student body, and the community greeting new and returning students, extending them best wishes, and sharing words of wisdom to help them excel in their studies.
"You are blessed to have a faculty and staff here who want to foster your growth and do everything to propel you forward as a successful student," Eric Neal, Mayor of Marshall, Texas, told students at convocation. Mayor Neal went on to tell students that Wiley and the community are partners working on their behalf. After qualifying the language of an adage by telling students they are not children, Neal said, "It takes a village to raise a child. Please allow this campus and the Marshall community to be your village."
New faculty member Brooke Woodard, who is an associate professor of chemistry and an alumnus of Wiley, welcomed students to the place where all students can succeed and encouraged them to be assertive and active in their pursuits. " Don't wait for things to happen. Take action," she said. "Find yourself under the wing of a mentor and find your passion."
The most anticipated message to students at convocation came from Wiley's President, Dr. Haywood L. Strickland, who, with a nod to Wiley's recent Youth Theology Institute and its use of John Maxwell's book "Running with the Giants," shared the Bible story of the Israelite shepherd boy David, who slew the mighty Philistine Goliath in battle. Dr. Strickland told students that with David having three brothers in the army, he was not considered a candidate to battle Goliath. "Limitations don't limit us unless we let it happen," he said. "Just as David did, throw off limitations others may have of you."
To assist students in overcoming limitations and growing to their full potential, Dr. Strickland charged students to take heed of the four commitments in David Foster's book, "Accept No Mediocre Life," – 1) excel at being who you are, 2)excel where you are, 3) excel with what you have, and 4) excel while you can. "God put you here with your own mind, talents, and strengths," said Wiley's President.
Dr Strickland, who is entering this school year celebrating his 16th year at Wiley College, also gave charges to his faculty and staff, telling them to "infuse passion with pride" in their performance, and to have "magnanimous responsiveness to students." Quoting the Methodist Episcopal religious leader John Wesley, Dr. Strickland told faculty and staff to, "Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can."
Wiley's Julius S. Scott Chapel was filled to capacity for fall convocation, with its seats largely being occupied by members from its 483 new class of students, as well as faculty, staff, alumni and College trustees.
In a "by the numbers" breakdown at convocation about Wiley's new students, Dr. Strickland shared that the highest grade point average among new students is 4.0, the highest ACT score is 27, the highest SAT score is 1,720, and the most attending from a single high school is 12, from Marshall High School. Dr. Strickland also shared that the top three states represented in Wiley's class of new students is 257 from Texas, 95 from Louisiana, and 29 from California, and that the farthest home of origin for a new student is Harare, Zimbabwe.
The College's A Cappella Choir, under the direction of Stephen L Hayes, performed two songs at convocation, both of which underscored the day's messages and received standing ovations- Robert Robinson's "Come Thou Fount of Ev'ry Blessing," and R. Rodgers and O. Hammerstein's "Climb Ev'ry Mountain."
Pictured in photos, from top to bottom, are Wiley' s new students taking pledge to pursue excellence in their studies, Wiley's President telling students to defy limitations, and A Cappella Choir singers April Horner, a junior from Memphis, Tennessee, and Cameron Smith of Dallas, performing R. Rodgers and O. Hammerstein's "Climb Ev'ry Mountain."
In bottom photo is the full A Cappella Choir performing at Convocation.