NKU Convocation Fatigue

The beginning of each collegiate school year is marked by convocation – a Latin term meaning boring speeches.

This fall, on campuses across the nation, academics and students gathered together to join in celebration of the new school year. Hope springs eternal at these events as new professors are introduced to their colleagues, administrators set forth their annual list of lofty institutional goals and incoming freshman seek motivation (and usually directions to the bathroom).

I am sure they had convocations each year I attended Eastern Kentucky University in the late 1970s. However, as the university leadership never had the foresight to hold its convocations at The Family Dog or Ma Kelly’s, I never attended one.

In the event you don’t get the reference to The Dog or Ma’s, ask an EKU alumnus or a University of Kentucky alumnus that had enough extra spending money to head to Richmond on a Thursday night during the era when the home of the Colonels had the distinction of being one of the top 20 party schools in America. Go Big E! – but I digress.

As my son got ready to start his college career at Northern Kentucky University, I began getting invitations to campus convocations. I went to the convocation for the Steely Library. I went to the convocation for faculty, staff and friends of NKU at Greaves Hall. I went to the convocation for new students and their parents at the Bank of Kentucky Center.

By the time my son settled down for his first night in Kentucky Hall as a new Norseman, his mother and I were convocated-out.

Through the awards, introductions and speeches, I learned several things about Northern Kentucky University.

First, I came to realize that the Steely Library on NKU’s campus is a hidden jewel of our community. The folks at Steely have learned information is best utilized when properly delivered. They have discovered a workable balance between access to paper and online databases by making both available to their users.

Secondly, convocation gave me first-hand interaction with NKU’s student body as well as those taking our next generation of leadership through their first challenge of adulthood. Not only am I impressed by the quality of students NKU is attracting, but I also understand that the people working there are the magnet attracting these students.

Finally, I learned that I do not know my Latin and convocation doesn’t mean boring speech.

The speech given by NKU President Geoffrey Mearns was humorous, informative and inspiring. Having come to our community a year ago to replace Jim Votruba at the helm of NKU, we’re still getting to know President Mearns.

For many, a first impression of Mearns was formed as he dealt with some challenging, and very public, issues regarding the athletic department. We skipped the dating and jumped right into a relationship. Via convocation to the point of fatigue, I got to know a little bit about NKU’s President.

Mearns’ vision for NKU is exciting and … well … visionary.

At the end of his speech to faculty, President Mearns reflected on his parents as people who believed deeply in the power of education. He spoke from the heart in a way that would make any parent comfortable in placing their children in his hands.

Now, if I can just figure out how to get Mearns to help me move my son out of the dorm at the end of the semester. 


Rick Robinson is a Fort Mitchell lawyer, author and politician. His books are available at amazon.com.