Faculty and Freshmen Convocations Kick-Off New Academic Year

As a precursor to the official start of the 2012-2013 academic year, Saint Peter’s University welcomed freshmen and faculty during separate convocations on August 28, 2012.

The day began early for the freshmen who assembled in the Victor R. Yanitelli, S.J., Recreational Life Center for the start of their day-long convocation. In an invocation delivered by Rev. Rocco Danzi, S.J., director of Campus Ministry, he asked the Class of 2016 to “breathe in hope and breathe out thanks” before delivering the opening prayer.

Saint Peter’s University President Eugene J. Cornacchia, Ph.D., delivered a welcoming address to “the newest members of our service learning community,” saying, “You are a special group, each with unique talents and gifts that you will bring to the University.”  

Scott Miller ’13, president of the Student Government Association, took to the stage to read the Petrean Creed, which outlines the educational and personal values that the students will learn and live by during their time at the University. Each freshman signed the creed as a pledge of their commitment to these guidelines.

After students were introduced to the Freshmen Common Reading Program, they had an opportunity to meet with their faculty advisors in a classroom setting in McDermott Hall. Finally, the Class of 2016 ended the convocation with food, games, karaoke and more at a special barbeque in their honor.

In the afternoon, the Faculty Convocation, held annually in the Roy Irving Theatre, honored several members of the campus community with Bene Merenti awards for 20 years of service to the University. This year’s award recipients are Anna Brown, Ph.D.; Marcia T. Mitchell, Ph.D. ’87; Jennifer Dunn ’93; and David Bryngil ’91.

As is tradition, faculty, administration and staff settled into the theatre as colleagues of the Bene Merenti awardees read citations in honor of this professional milestone. Some passages were humorous while others were sentimental, yet all paid tribute to dedicated individuals for their accomplishments and contributions to the Jesuit University of New Jersey.     

Dr. Brown, an associate professor of political science, “could not imagine working in a less diverse place,” according to David S. Surrey, Ph.D., professor and chairman of the sociology and urban studies department at Saint Peter’s University. “Her passions for social justice passionately reflect the Ignatian spirit in a manner that should serve as a model for our entire community.”

For Associate Professor of Info and Computer Science Dr. Mitchell, returning to her alma mater – where she received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees – to teach was an easy decision. She has been an integral part of Saint Peter’s, with Professor of Info and Computer Science Donal MacVeigh saying, “She co-led several faculty workshops and developed a plan for the use of technology, both for the department and the entire University.”

Rev. John F. Wrynn, S.J., said of Dunn, his former history student at McNair Academic High School, “As this young woman’s family grew…Jennifer had two families to tend to – one at home and one at work.” She is the administrator-treasurer of the Jesuit community on campus.

Bryngil, the director of the Recreational Life Center, is described by his colleagues as “full of energy, approachable, fair, upbeat, conscientious, exceptionally understanding, versatile, modest, interested in his staff, a great guy, leader on many highly demanding college-wide committees, bright, thinks outside the box, and always willing to help,” according to Eileen L. Poiani, Ph.D., special assistant to the president/professor of mathematics. “From floods top to bottom; from snow that leveled the bubble to personally repairing fitness equipment: Dave is Mr. Fix-It and an all-around talent…balancing the demands of thousands of people who use the Yanitelli Center and managing the complicated and diverse athletic and other diverse event setups,” she added.

After the awards ceremony, a reception was held in honor of the Bene Merenti recipients, where faculty, administration and staff from various departments of the University offered their congratulations.