Morehouse College marked the start of its 153rd year serving scholars with an inspiring Opening Convocation that challenged students to focus on excellence and to use their intellect and talents to transform the world.
The traditional ceremony sets the tone for the academic year ahead. Enrollment at Morehouse has remained steady with more than 2,200 scholars on rosters, 630 of whom are freshmen and transfer students. The incoming class is high-performing with an A-average GPA of 3.6 and an average SAT score of 1140, which is in the top-third of test-takers.
At the formal ceremony, Morehouse Provost Michael L. Hodge welcomed incoming students and recognized the Class of 2020 who has reached the final year of their journey in becoming Morehouse Men. He noted that seniors have been dubbed the class of “perfect vision” and encouraged them to stay vigilant as they navigate the academic demands of their final year at Morehouse.
The academic theme of the year is “Transforming Ourselves to Transform the World.”
“As we continue to actualize this theme, we all must be committed to affirm excellence in every aspect of our daily activities, and to recognize the significance and consequences of every choice that we make,” Hodge said as he stood before an audience of students clad in shirts in ties at the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel. “This commitment also involves a partnership between and among administrators, faculty, students, and staff. Thus, today, we ask every member of the Morehouse family to pledge his or her personal commitment to the success of that partnership.”
Morehouse President David A. Thomas, who gave the address at the Opening Convocation, began his talk by sharing some of the academic successes of the Class of 2019.
“I am happy to report that the excellence that is Morehouse College was evident in the last academic year and the one that we have just begun,” Thomas said. “Our students have demonstrated excellence in and out of the classroom. Many of our students were chosen for prestigious research fellowships at Tier One research universities such as Emory, Michigan State, the University of Michigan, and Vanderbilt. The demand for the talent that we produce is also evident in the fact that our students are successfully finding post-graduate opportunities at some of the world’s leading graduate schools and jobs at some of the world’s leading companies.”
Thomas praised the victories of Morehouse’s Debate and Moot Court teams, as well as the scholar athletes who won games and tournaments in 2019. He also shared his excitement for the honor received by Class of 2019 co-valedictorian, Jonathan Epps. The new alumnus will be traveling to Brazil in 2020 as a Fulbright Scholar.
The contributions of faculty were also highlighted. Thomas noted that Dean of King Chapel Lawrence E. Carter Sr. was grabbing headlines with his new award-winning book “A Baptist Preacher’s Buddhist Teacher” and is celebrating an important milestone at Morehouse.
“This is Dean Carter’s 40th year of providing leadership at Morehouse College,” Thomas said. “We are here in large measure because of the leadership that he provided the school, both spiritually and intellectually.”
Carter received a standing ovation for his dedication to the men of Morehouse. He was hired in 1979 as the first Dean of King Chapel, the only chapel at a college in the nation that is a monument to King and his vision for human rights on a global scale. Carter is a tenured religion professor and serves as Morehouse’s archivist and curator.
The President’s address focused on Morehouse’s commitment to providing students with world-class instruction, innovation, and 21st century-learning opportunities that connect with careers. Morehouse is the nation’s only HBCU to now offer software engineering as a major. The Division of Experiential Learning & Interdisciplinary Studies added the new major to attract top talent in computer science to Morehouse and to make current students more competitive globally for tech jobs.
In addition, the Atlanta University Center Consortium Data Science Institute was launched over the summer to provide classes this academic year that will prepare students to meet the growing demand in the marketplace for data scientists and data analytics experts. The courses are open to students studying computer science and others who are interested in learning how to analyze data in their subject areas.
Another innovative program at Morehouse attracting interest from AUC partners targets students interested in education. The Center for Excellence in Education, which is directed by Dr. Nina L. Gilbert, a national leader in education reform, is focused on building a new pipeline of educators, innovators, policymakers, and researchers who are equipped to transform and improve educational outcomes in urban communities. Students also learn how to use their entrepreneurial talents to open their own schools.
The new center is part of the expanded academic program at Morehouse, which now includes 33 majors and seven divisions for the 2019-2020 academic year. The new divisions are: Social Sciences and Cultural Studies, Humanities, Life Sciences, Business Administration and Economics, Mathematics and Computational Sciences, Creative and Performing Arts, and The Division of Experiential Learning & Interdisciplinary Studies.
Thomas asked faculty, staff, and students to embrace the institutional transformation and cultural enrichment that is necessary for the College to progress, grow enrollment, and boost the four-year graduation rate.
“In the coming years, I am proposing that we work together crystalized around realizing excellence, creating partnerships of purpose, and taking Morehouse beyond borders …We need
to build a community of trust, transparency and accountability,” he said. “What all of us do matters immeasurably. It will matter to how great we can be as an institution.”