Convocation 2013 launches fall semester with a dose of reflection and inspiration

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Lipscomb University’s 2013 Convocation ceremony launched the fall semester with a dose of reflection and inspiration, as university and Lipscomb Academy faculty, staff and students gathered in Allen Arena to celebrate on Aug. 27.

This semester marks the beginning of Lipscomb’s 123rd academic year, and President L. Randolph Lowry was reminded students how far the university has come since its humble beginnings in 1891.

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“To my wife and I, this is one of the most precious moments of the academic year,” he said of the convocation ceremony, which traditionally includes faculty in academic regalia, a parade of flags and processional music by the Nashville Pipe and Drums ensemble.

 “A convocation is an opportunity to refresh, renew and reflect,” said Susan Morley, assistant professor of pharmacy practice, who provided the academic charge. “We get so busy sometimes that we forget to reflect on the accomplishments we have already achieved.”

Lowry noted several such accomplishments in his presentation:  the university’ record enrollment of 5,911 for the entire institution so far this year; the record number of students expected to participate in global learning programs (218); the 419 new iPads to be used by all middle school students this year; and the 24 new university faculty hired.

The $6.5 million pharmacy and health sciences research center will be completed this fall, clearing the way for the university to focus its construction efforts to expanding and then renovating McFarland Science Center, Lowry told the students, who broke into applause.

But after reflecting on accomplishments, Lowry turned to his vision for the future, noting that he wants to “envision what God would want us to be.” The answer, Lowry said, is to pursue new challenges with humility and boldness, two seemingly counter attributes praised in the book of Timothy.

How do we do that? Lowry told the story of Terry Waite, a diplomat and humanitarian who will serve as a scholar-in-residence at Lipscomb’s Institute for Conflict Management this year. Waite was taken hostage and kept in solitary confinement for four years by Hezbollah in Lebanon in the 1980s. When he was first assigned to negotiate with Hezbollah, despite the risks of the dangerous task, Waite faced the job with humility and boldness, going where God called him to go, Lowry said.

In this academic year, Lipscomb should do the same, he said, and thus reflect the power and the love of God to all.