Khayat Urges UM Students to Use Opportunities and Make Choices Wisely

Chancellor Emeritus Robert Khayat delivers the keynote address at last nights freshman convocation.  Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications
Chancellor Emeritus Robert Khayat delivers the keynote address at last nights freshman convocation. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Incoming students at the University of Mississippi had a unique opportunity to hear from Chancellor Emeritus Robert Khayat at the university’s Fall Convocation Tuesday night at Tad Smith Coliseum.

The annual Fall Convocation serves as an official welcome for first-year students. In addition, students received their class coin, a memento that serves as a reminder to uphold the values and beliefs of the university.

Khayat, author of the best-selling memoir, “The Education of a Lifetime” (Nautilus, 2013) shared stories from his years on the Ole Miss campus. The book, which was chosen for the 2015 Common Reading Experience, will serve as an integral text in First Year Experience courses.

“You have found a new home,” Khayat said. “It may seem a little strange now, walking into the residence hall for the first time and it’s not the same room you lived in while you were at home. But this home was built on 167 years of commitment of ethereal values: honesty, integrity, courage, sensitivity, truth, freedom and free expression.”

The 4,000-plus members of the audience, including both freshmen and transfer students, were presented with a perspective of the university that was as unique as Khayat himself.

“You are enrolled at a new Ole Miss that has grown and has retained its soul and its spirit, and you are sailing on fresh seas and are charting your own courses,” Khayat said.

Ending his charge to students, Khayat noted, “When you reach the end of your time at Ole Miss, the value of your experiences and who you are will be determined by the choices that you make.”

Other speakers included Morris Stocks, acting chancellor; Noel Wilkin, acting provost; Brandi Hephner LaBanc, vice chancellor for student affairs; Melinda Sutton, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs; and Rod Bridges, Associated Student Body president.

Stocks encouraged the incoming students to remain true to themselves.

“When you are challenged by a tough situation or difficult class or uncertain expectations, call forth your will,” Stocks said. “Be strong and of a good courage, remind yourself that you have faced difficult and uncertain times in the past and that you have succeeded.”

At the conclusion of the event, students lined up to sign the Creed book. Many also had Khayat autograph their copies of his memoir as the former chancellor offered a few final words of advice.

Courtesy of William M Hamilton and the Ole Miss News Desk

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