Rituals are vitally important to any organization. They help define the culture.
By participating in rituals, members of a community can come to understand what the organization is about, what it prides itself in, and what it wants to become.
Events like Hampton University’s annual convocation provide time to reflect, to express aspirations and share stories, and to celebrate accomplishments. Being that Convocation marks the start of the academic year, this particular event also prompts us to set goals that align with those held by others at “our home by the sea.”
This year, the historic Ogden Hall overflowed with families and with enthusiasm. This event coincided with Parent’s Weekend and so the crowd was particularly large. The choir was amazing (as always)! The students performed two different spirituals: Let the People Sing Praise Unto the Lord, and You Must Have that True Religion. We also had lovely trumpet performances for the processional and recessional, with architecture alum Adam Davis on organ for the opener.
The university’s president, Dr. William R. Harvey addressed the crowd and recognized two members of the faculty (Drs. Francisco Cornell and Paula Barnes) with awards for outstanding teaching.
Then to top the festivities off, the Honorable John Charles Thomas, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia, delivered a stirring keynote address.
And he received TWO standing ovations.
I’ve never seen that happen before except at a rock concert!
Justice Thomas had ended his resounding speech with a poem, and he followed the ovations with an encore… reciting a second poem to an appreciative crowd of students, families, and faculty.
The entire HU faculty was present. To tell the truth, it’s a contractual obligation to attend. We’d also been required to attend the speech to parents the morning before, so we were all very happy to have such a motivational speaker.
This year the time in Ogden Hall was very well spent. Justice Thomas, a life-long Hamptonian who sported HU t-shirts even as a toddler, reminded us of who were are and why we are here. I, for one, appreciated the reminder because it was delivered in such a positive, lively, and engaging way.