Developing Memories for a Lifetime

Life at Rio is off and running with nearly 2400 students on campus. We are very excited to see increased residency on campus—something we attribute to next year’s residency requirement. During our recruitment and orientation activities, we strongly encouraged students to “be ahead of the crowd”, and secure their dorm rooms now. The vitality of a residential campus is growing!

To better acclimate our new students to life at Rio, we host an annual New Student Convocation. This year’s event was held on September 13, 2013 in Christensen Theatre of the Berry Fine and Performing Arts Center. Our agenda for the day was to impart a strong feeling of acceptance, warmth and encouragement to the newest members of our Rio Family. We showcased outstanding students, promoted campus activities, and opened doors for communication. We even sang the alma mater, The Red and White, as we do at Commencement.

I am pleased to note this year’s keynote speaker was Mr. Ken French, Head Coach of Men’s Basketball. A native of Huntington, W.Va., Coach French began his fourteenth year at the University of Rio Grande and eighth season as the men's basketball head coach. Since becoming Rio's head coach, his teams have served as an on-court demonstration squad for Championship Productions instructional DVD's at Nike Coaching Clinics in New Haven, CT; Myrtle Beach, SC; Pittsburgh, PA; and Cleveland, Ohio. Under his direction, Rio Grande's summer basketball camps – the Little RedStorm Day Camp and the Individual "Hard Work" Camp – have seen the number of participants grow to record levels. Coach French has been instrumental in the development of the Rio Fall Basketball Academy. He also heads up the NAIA "Champions of Character" Initiative for the entire URG athletic program for the 13th year and was certified by the NAIA as a "Champions of Character" instructor in October 2005. You can see why he was chosen as our speaker—he presented a wonderful message on leadership, accountability and Rio Pride.

Other members of our stage party included Mr. Jack Finch ‘74, URG Board Chair and University Chaplain, who provided our Invocation. Annette Ward ‘98, Director of Alumni Relations welcomed the new students on behalf of the Alumni Association, and our Student Senate President, Samantha Hammond, gave a welcome from the entire student body.

One of the most significant sentiments of Convocation is the New Student Pinning. Our Student Ambassadors presented a Rio lapel pin to each of the new students, as a symbol of their lifelong connection with Rio Grande.

After Convocation, the students were treated to a picnic and Student Activities Fair. It was an opportunity for students to socialize, and become connected with our many student organizations. We strongly encourage participation in campus life. We know how important this is to retention, completion, and well—just FUN!

Each of us holds many special memories of Rio, and our new students are developing memories that will last a lifetime. This excerpt from our alma mater says it well – So here’s to old Rio, the Red and the White. Long may she prosper and guide us on our way!

Barbara Gellman-Danley, Ph.D.