Winthrop University's Convocation messages Monday evoked the university's tradition and embraced the fast-paced "plugged-in" student life today.
"None of us, in today's turbulent world can sit still," said Eddie Lee in his Convocation address. "Our mission here on this campus - and beyond - is too important to sit still."
To do that important work, Lee, a Winthrop graduate, associate professor of history and mayor of York, urged students to "Begin - begin right now."
As Winthrop enters its 125th year, the school's newest Eagles are ready for classes to begin.
Sean Rodriguez, a freshman theater major, said he loves Winthrop and can't wait to get on stage.
Freshmen Chris Aubrie and Justin Hudson came to Winthrop from Bennettsville. They both like the faster pace of campus and are hoping to pledge to a fraternity.
"It's a lively and engaging community," Aubrie said of his first impressions of Winthrop.
"There's so much to do here," Hudson said.
Courtney Pearson of Sumter, Jazmine Wright-Chisolm of Charleston and Mett Omogun of Greenwood met not in orientation, nor in their residence hall, but on Facebook. They're eager to start classes and get involved in student groups.
"Everybody says college is going to be hard, but there are so many resources available," Pearson said.
Many faculty are taking advantage of just how plugged-in students are, as Marsha Bollinger pointed out during the Convocation.
"Get to know your faculty," said Bollinger, chair of Faculty Conference. "Come by their office, send them e-mails or tweets. Contact them on Facebook."
Not everyone on campus is updating their modes of communication.
"I'm very low-tech," Jim Connell, professor of art in ceramics, said at the picnic that followed Monday's ceremony. Though he refuses to tweet or have a Facebook page, he's been teaching art for more than 20 years and knows some time-tested truisms, including this advice to freshmen: "Find a passion," he said. "Find something you love to do, and you'll never work a day in your life."
The Convocation ended with a long-standing tradition, the Blue Line Procession. President Anthony DiGiorgio and wife Gale led the faculty and new crop of freshmen wearing white and blue down to Tillman Hall for a barbecue picnic.
Students listened and danced to live music while learning more about campus activities from groups stationed along the sidewalks.
The Blue Line dates back to 1895, when David Bancroft Johnson, Winthrop's first president, led students wearing blue and white uniforms down Oakland Avenue to church services held on the first Sunday of each new school year.
More than 100 years later the tradition continues, altered in reflection of the campus' growing diversity.
With a freshman class of 900 to 1,000 and a student body cresting 6,000, Winthrop expects nearly 200 international students this year representing 40 countries, including 66 students from China, 30 from Saudi Arabia, 17 from Canada, 10 from France, and 8 each from Brazil, Vietnam and Norway.
Classes begin today.