Thousands of new MTSU freshmen, aka the Class of 2023, and Class of ’21 transfer students will be joined by their families and the community to help ring in the 2019-20 academic year during University Convocation at 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24, in Murphy Center.
The public is invited.
Attendees will hear from President Sidney A. McPhee, Vice President of Student Affairs Deb Sells and author Tara Westover, author of “Educated: A Memoir,” the university’s Summer Reading Program selection for all new students.
To find parking near Murphy Center, visit http://tinyurl.com/MTParkingMap.
Sells said Convocation, a rite of each new fall semester at MTSU where faculty and administrators don academic regalia to open the school year, is designed to welcome new students into the learning community and to immediately engage them in the learning process.
“The foundation for this effort is the Summer Reading Program, through which each new MTSU student is required to read a common piece of literature prior to his or her arrival on campus,” added Sells, who is also vice provost for enrollment and academic services at MTSU.
She explained that this year’s reading selection “is Westover’s story of growing up isolated as part of a survivalist family living off the grid in Idaho. It’s also the story of the grit and determination that eventually secured her admission to Brigham Young University, then to Harvard and eventually to a doctoral degree from Cambridge University.”
Sells recalled MTSU’s 2017 summer reading selection, “Hillbilly Elegy,” by J.D. Vance, and noted that The New York Times Book Review compared the two books in its review of “Educated.”
“If (J.D.) Vance’s memoir offered street-heroin-grade drama, (Tara) Westover’s is carfentanil, the stuff that tranquilizes elephants,” reviewer Alec McGinnis wrote. “The extremity of Westover’s upbringing emerges gradually through her telling, which only makes the telling more alluring and harrowing. … By the end, Westover has somehow managed not only to capture her unsurpassably exceptional upbringing, but to make her current situation seem not so exceptional at all, and resonant for many others.”
Westover’s book topped The New York Times’ best-seller list and was nominated for the 2018 John Leonard Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography and the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award. Sells said many MTSU faculty members are incorporating the summer reading selection into early writing assignments or using it as a theme for class discussion.
More than 3,000 new students and several thousand parents are expected to attend Convocation.
Following Convocation, the annual President’s Picnic will take place at Floyd Stadium.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)