A Call to Gather
Written by Klara Holscher
Since the re-institution of Convocation at Hillsdale in the 1980s, students and faculty have gathered in the fall, and again in the spring, for this all-school ceremony. Faculty process down the church aisle in the robes and colors of their alma maters, and students cram the balconies. The contrast is stark between the rush and clamor of everyday life on campus and these stately, solemn events.
“Convocation. It’s an old word, an old concept,” says Dr. Tom Conner, professor of history, as he thumbs through his dictionary. “It comes from the word ‘convoke,’ which means, ‘to call together to a meeting; summon.’
“We do get caught up in the stress and the hustle and bustle of all the chores we have to do: reading assignments, writing assignments, grading assignments for the faculty. It’s nice to have an occasion to gather and not just be reminded of what you’re about but to celebrate it. In your own quiet way listen to the music, meditate, listen to the address, listen to what the president has to say as he gives a mini state-of-the-college talk, and then go back an hour later to the mundane chores that dominate our lives—but go back refreshed and encouraged and, hopefully, inspired.”
These unifying, clarifying occasions are “a calling together of the campus community in order to reaffirm our common purpose and mission,” says Provost David Whalen. They remind us of the “profound, invisible bond” between us, for “college is a kind of mother, and we are all siblings.”
“Even if what you are doing has a high purpose,” Dr. Whalen says, “the doing of it, the nitty and the gritty, doesn’t seem high. So we pause to remember what we are about.” He adds that these assemblies are “designed as a ceremony rooted in the religious nature.”
“In the articles of the College we are charged with teaching the precepts of Christianity and living out our faith as faculty members, as students, and as a community,” Dr. Conner says. When we gather together and reflect on these things at Convocation, we are “keeping faith with the circumstances of the creation of our College. Convocation really is about grounding us. By reminding us of who we are, it renews and refreshes us as we go about living out that identity.”
Klara Holscher, ‘17, is an English Major from Hobart, New York. She possesses a quirky sense of humor, an orange car, and a terrible sense of direction. It remains to be seen whether or not these elements will lead to a career in writing, but regardless, they should afford some amusement along the way.