University of Vermont

Former President Daniel Mark Fogel

June 1 , 2011

To: UVM Faculty and Staff
From: Daniel Mark Fogel, President

Re: Convocation 2011 and Summer Reading for Class of 2015

Each fall, we begin the academic year with Convocation, a celebration to usher in the new academic year. Continuing a tradition started four years ago, Convocation will be held the evening before the first day of classes on Sunday, August 28, 2011 in the Roy L. Patrick Gymnasium. I am writing to advise you of this year’s schedule and to encourage your participation.

  • Convocation will begin at 6:00 p.m. in the Patrick Gym. After Convocation, we will adjourn and walk in procession as a community to the University Green for the Class of 2015 Twilight Induction Ceremony.

  • We are requiring all first-year students to read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot over the summer. The book chronicles the life of Henrietta Lacks, a poor African American migrant from the tobacco farms of Virginia, whose cells were taken without her knowledge sixty years ago. Henrietta Lacks’ cells became one of the most important tools in medicine, including breakthroughs leading to polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Her cells have been bought and sold countless times over while she has remained unknown and neither she nor her family have benefitted in any way. As Rebecca Skloot’s website states, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew. It’s a story inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we’re made of.”

  • Copies of the book are available at the UVM Bookstore. In addition, copies for faculty and staff are available at a 20% discount through the Bookstore with a UVM ID. We expect virtually all of the more than 2,400 first-year students to attend Convocation. The occasion will again be a memorable gathering of the campus community.

  • Rebecca Skloot’s schedule does not permit her to attend the Convocation Ceremony. We are pleased that Ms. Skloot will be on campus on Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 5:30 p.m. at Ira Allen Chapel to address the University Community. We anticipate announcing the Convocation keynote speaker shortly. Please visit the Convocation website for more information - Convocation 2011

  • While there will be no University-wide curricular component of the first-year summer reading, individual faculty members from a variety of disciplines will be using the book in the fall. In addition, staff members in Bailey/Howe Library are developing material in support of the program. We invite all members of the community to take the opportunity to read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and to explore ways to engage in discussions in the fall around the book whether inside or outside the classroom.

I hope that you will mark your calendars now for this very exciting and special occasion and that you will join us at the Convocation ceremony in the Patrick Gymnasium on Sunday, August 28 at 6:00 p.m. More information about Convocation will be available later this summer. I am confident that Convocation 2011 will be a remarkable and memorable experience and an exceptional way to commence the new academic year.

Last modified June 24 2011 11:57 AM

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