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  September 7, 2004

Convocation Speaker Urges New Students
To Participate Fully In University Life

Skipping class is money out the window, veteran faculty member Carol Lammi-Keefe told new students during Convocation in the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion Aug. 27.

"How many of you opened your car windows on the way to campus and threw $20 bills to the wind?" she asked.

Image: Carol Lammi-Keefe delivers the Convocation address.

Carol Lammi-Keefe, professor of nutritional sciences, delivers the Convocation address at Gampel Pavilion August 27.
Photo by Peter Morenus

If a student sleeps instead of attending class and skips a single class each week, that's a loss of $500 for an in-state student, or double that for a student from out of state, she said. "It's money out the window.

"Education is expensive and it's a sacrifice for many families, but it's one of your best investments," she said. "But students need to fully participate in order to maximize this investment."

Lammi-Keefe, a professor of nutritional sciences and University Research Fellow, was the main speaker during Convocation, the University's first formal event of the 2004-05 academic year.

President Philip E. Austin and other senior administrators, members of the Board of Trustees, deans, and faculty members - all in full academic regalia - accompanied by the exuberant UConn Marching Band, presided over the ceremony welcoming thousands of new students and their families to the University community.

Fred Maryanski, interim provost, said on his first day at college, students were told to look at the person to their left and the person to their right. One of the three would not be around the next year. At UConn now, he said, new students should look at the two students on either side, the two in front, and the three behind: only one of them will not return for their sophomore year.

"UConn has an 89 percent retention rate from the first to the second year," Maryanski said. "That puts us among the top institutions in the country. The reason for this is that we have quality students taught by quality faculty and advised by quality professional staff. The faculty and staff are here to help students select the right passport to their future."

To help the Class of 2008 get the most out of the UConn experience, Lammi-Keefe offered a few words of advice: "Ask questions and seek help when needed. Build a community for yourself on campus," she said. "Be open to opportunities - such as sporting events, the performing arts, and club sports. Develop a relationship with a faculty member and your adviser. There are research opportunitie s for everyone.

"Be a risk taker," she added. "Milk a cow, check out the radio station, write for The Daily Campus, learn to speak Vietnamese or Russian, volunteer to teach inner city kids to read. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain."

Derek Olson, president of the Undergraduate Student Government, also urged new students not to take for granted the opportunities at UConn.

"Where else can you camp out in the cold for basketball tickets?" he said. "Or try to finish a one-ton sundae in February? Or sweat on Horsebarn Hill on the first warm day in spring?"

As parents prepared to travel home with their vehicles "a little roomier," Lammi-Keefe offered the students some homey advice: "On a personal note as a professor of nutrition," she said, "in the absence of your mothers, remember to eat your fruits and vegetables."