This year, the annual celebration of the beginning of the academic year at the College moved to the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center and was set to the music of alumna and jazz notable Dawn Clement, class of 2000.
The students, faculty, and staff of Cornish College of the Arts gathered for the College’s Convocation at a new and fitting venue for the traditional ceremony, the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center. Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Star Hang Nga Rush welcomed everyone to the College’s 104th academic year on Wednesday evening, September 5. Well-known jazz pianist and vocalist Dawn Clement, a 2000 graduate of Cornish’s Music Department, entertained the gathering of several hundred.
In her welcome address, Rush expanded on the Cornish’s declared mission to prepare its students to benefit society as “artists, citizens, and innovators.” ”What do we mean by citizen?” Rush asked. “These are the behaviors, duties, obligations, functions--the very character of an individual viewed as a member of society. Today, I ask us to reflect on these questions: What is the role of artists in a free, democratic society? What is the role of educators in such a society?”
With Rush’s words hanging in the air, Hannah Osgood, a senior in Theater and representing the Cornish Student Leadership Council, led the attendees in reciting the Statement of Commitment to the Cornish Community: “I will maintain respect for the dignity and integrity of each person. / I will safeguard the practice of free and open expression. / I will accept personal accountability for my decisions and actions.” All present were then invited to sign the Book of Community to seal the annual agreement.
President of the Faculty Senate and professor of philosophy Raymond Maxwell followed, regaling incoming students with the tale of two Belgian princes, one who became trapped by the other in a prison of his own making. We are frequently our own jailers, allowing ourselves to be captive by being passive, Maxwell told the audience. He continued that they would be different, because “we have chosen to live rather than merely exist. Because we own that we really are the sum of our choices.”
Interim President Chris Kevorkian spoke of how “Cornish sits at the epicenter and intersection of disruptive technologies, inclusive innovation, environmental evangelism, a city committed to equal rights for all. There are few places in the world, right now, more welcoming to and supportive of artists. We are ALL committed to ensuring you become the artists, innovators and citizens you aspire to be.”
Kevorkian then asked students to “reflect on the fact that nobody ever said getting a BFA was going to be easy. It won’t be. The Cornish curriculum will both challenge and prepare you to realize your goals as you journey from aspiring artist to becoming an enterprising artist.”
“You are all enterprising and entrepreneurial by the very fact that you are makers and creators, innovators and artists” Kevorkian said. “Cornish, the original innovative artist collective, has been creating a magical learning environment —for courageous people like all of you—for more than 100 years.”
Following President Kevorkian’s address, Rush, in her capacity as provost of the College, brought down the gavel and declared the opening of the academic year 2017-2018.