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Thirty-Fourth Convocation Launches COA Year

Emotional speeches mark traditional school meeting
September 7, 2005 - Gates Center

On Wednesday, September 7, College of the Atlantic formally began its 34th academic year with a convocation presided over by President Steven K. Katona and a member of the school's first class.

Steve Katona and Steve SavageCOA begins the fall with 280 students. About 20 percent of these students come from Maine. Another 20 percent are from outside the United States, representing 38 countries. Also among the incoming students are three visitors who are temporarily unable to continue their education in New Orleans.

In opening the 2005 convocation, Katona recognized that it will be his final year as president of COA. As a founding faculty member, Katona has been at the college for each of its 34 years. During this emotional convocation, Academic Dean Karen Waldron admonished the assembled group of about 200 new and old students and the college's faculty and staff to, "look around you: this is the campus Steve [Katona] built. Take yourselves seriously; that has always been Steve's challenge. Aim to be as wise, literate, and poetic - as interdisciplinary - as Steve has shown us it is possible to be today."

COA's keynote alumni speaker, Savage '77, continued a theme of rhythms that Katona began, comparing his COA experience at a college of just 31 students and seven faculty to the current one. Savage, a founding member of Allied Whale and a pilot for American Airlines, also hosts the monthly show on politics for WERU Community Radio, "Behind the Soundbite," featuring interviews with nationally known political thinkers, writers and activists. Savage spoke about the lasting meaning of human ecology, COA's one major. For him, ecology is a matter of closing circles, understanding the cycles of nature. "When we grasp these cycles, we will be able to live in such a way as to sustain life," he said, "for sustainability and balance are crucial to our long term survival." As for the human part, Savage spoke of this as a spiritual quest, "knowing one's heart and acknowledging the endless potential that life engenders from amoebae to the blue whale." To begin this quest, Savage admonished students to get to know themselves: "Let truth cut through the spin and hyperbole. Understand your passions, ambitions, avarice love and resentment."

In closing the convocation, Waldron echoed Savage, speaking about the passion of a COA education, and telling students, "College of the Atlantic lives and breathes on the remarkable integrity of your spirit, your hope, and your willingness to work to make the world a better place. Nurture that spirit in all that you do and in everyone around you. On a daily basis, ask yourself what your task is and never let yourself go to sleep without accomplishing it."

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