Sul Ross State University’s Class of 2021 was encouraged to learn traditions and issued dares to serve, think creatively and to make the most of opportunities during the 18th annual New Student Convocation, held Sunday evening (Aug. 27).
   The yearly event, held in Marshall Auditorium, welcomed about 350 new students into the Lobo family and acquainted them with university history and traditions.
   Sul Ross President Dr. Bill Kibler joined Student Government Association President Vince Apodaca, Anthony, in praising the Class of 2021 for making the right choice of enrolling at Sul Ross. In addition, the convocation featured a new tradition, introduction of and remarks by the President’s Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award recipient.
  The initial honoree, Dr. Louis Harveson, professor of Natural Resource Management and the Dan Allen Hughes, Jr. Endowed Director of the Borderlands Research Institute (BRI), said college marked the time for students to engage in the educational process.
  “If you were writing a book of your life, you would only be in the first, second or third chapter,” he said, adding that grades K-12 were a more passive stage of the learning process.
  “We are here to help you meet your goals, and as college students, now is the time to engage in your education….College is a full contact sport, so suit up, take your lumps and move forward.”
  He urged the Class of 2021 to be courageous in making choices and to accept mistakes as part of the process. Harveson noted that his own educational journey included “taking a break” from his studies due to uncertainty and poor academic performance.
  “But, I was courageous, I persevered and I found my niche,” he said. “Succeeding in college takes courage and you have taken the first step by being here tonight. This is the next chapter in the book of you.”
  Kibler congratulated the Class of 2021 on their wise choice to attend Sul Ross. “Welcome to the frontier university of West Texas, it is a place like no other. You have heard the word ‘family’ used repeatedly and you are now part of an exceptional family of Sul Ross Lobos.”
  He encouraged the incoming class to learn and experience the university’s numerous traditions, including learning the words of the Alma Mater, walking up Hancock Hill to help paint the Bar-SR-Bar at Homecoming and venturing all the way to the top to visit the desk, enjoy the view and write a message in the available notebooks.
  “And you can place a penny at the feet of the (Lawrence Sullivan) Sul Ross statue,” he said. “Every tradition has a history you should learn.”
  Kibler provided a brief history of the university’s namesake, who was a Texas Ranger, soldier, Governor of Texas and in the last years of his life, President of Texas A&M. As president at a then-small institution, Ross was in direct contact with students, including tutoring them in his home after classes. When they offered to pay him, he said, “I’ll take a penny for your thoughts.”
  At A&M, and now at Sul Ross, students place pennies at the feet of Ross’ statues for good luck during final exams.
  Kibler added that Sul Ross’ small class sizes and caring faculty and staff “are committed to your success.... We welcome you, congratulate you and challenge you to return four years from now at the Gallego Center to celebrate the ultimate measure of your success – your graduation from Sul Ross.”
  He also challenged the incoming class to take full advantage of the opportunities university life – and specifically Sul Ross campus life – offers. He quoted Richard Riley, former U.S. Secretary of Education, who said, “Your education will give you great advantages, but only if you take advantage of your education.”
  “There are abundant opportunities for you that (if utilized) will assure that you will reach your goals,” Kibler said, stressing that the opportunities are integral to developing leadership and character.
   “I dare you to be your very best. I dare you to think bigger and act bigger,” he said. “This is your opportunity to think about life in different ways.” He cited Ralston-Purina founder William Danforth’s four components – physical, mental, social and spiritual – to maintain a balanced life.
   Kibler added dares of building character, sharing with and serving others, quoting former President George H.W. Bush: “There is no definition of a successful life that does not include service to others.”
   “Each of you is blessed with exceptional talents. I dare you to be the best you can be,” Kibler said. “Welcome home to Sul Ross; welcome to the Lobo pack.”   
   Apodaca praised the Class of 2021 for making the right choice, urging them not to be afraid to make new friends, to ask questions and to join clubs and organizations and become involved in campus life.
   “Do not be afraid to be who you are,” he said. “Take advantage of your opportunities, and I hope your first year (at Sul Ross) is as eventful as mine was.”
   Apodaca also passed the Spirit Stick from the Class of 2019 to Class of 2021 representative Jay Simon, Georgetown.
Prior to the passing of the Spirit Stick, Harveson led the new students in reciting the Sul Ross pledge, first introduced in 2012.
   Dr. Joseph Velasco, associate professor of Communication, served as marshal and led the processional. Dr. Jimmy Case, Executive Vice President and Provost, made the introductions. The convocation concluded with singing the “Alma Mater,” led by Dr. Donald Freed, professor of Music. Steven Bennack, visiting lecturer in Music, played the Processional and Recessional.

Sul Ross Class of 2021 sounds Lobo howl prior to New Student Convocation.  (Photo by Steve Lang)