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2023 Encaenia
2023 President’s Dinner Welcoming Remarks

2023 President's Dinner Welcoming Remarks

Delivered May 24, 2023

Welcome to what we call the President’s Dinner, which makes it sound like this is my dinner.

That of course, is all wrong.

Class of 2023, this is your dinner, to be enjoyed with each other and with your family and friends. I am thrilled on behalf of the College and the many who have prepared the celebrations of the next few days to welcome you to this dinner and to our celebration of your Encaenia.

I want to begin by acknowledging our Chancellor, Debra Deane Little. The Chancellor is the presiding ceremonial officer at Encaenia. But our Chancellor is much more than that. With her husband Bob, she is a King’s parent who has distinguished herself in her dedication, commitment and generosity to our university and King’s students. Debra, we are definitely fortunate … I would say blessed … to have you as our Chancellor.

For many of you, starting Encaenia celebrations with a banquet in Prince Hall must evoke memories of the beginning and early days of your King’s journey. This is where you shared many meals and built friendships. Unusually for a university dining hall, the discussions were often actually about what you were learning.

This is where we gathered as students, faculty and staff for Formal Meals, one of the most distinctive and long-standing of King’s traditions.

These may be poignant memories – for many of you, they may be associated with the sudden ending of your FYP year and of your life in residence when the pandemic struck in March of 2020.

For some of you parents, this is where you came for the parent’s session after you said good-bye to your student on move-in day.

Our distinguished honorary degree recipients, Kathryn Burton and Kim Kierans, are among those who carry many fond memories of this beautiful room from their own days as King’s students. Kathryn and Kim, thank you so much for being here tonight for our graduands.

On the other hand, I recognize that for many of you, this may be your first meal or gathering in Prince Hall. If so, we are so grateful for this opportunity to share a meal with you in this heart of our campus. We speak often at King’s of our traditions, many of which involve a meal together, perhaps overlooking that the real tradition is just that – sharing a meal together in friendship, fellowship and community.

So, whether tonight is one more meal in Prince Hall that evokes memories, or a first meal that hopefully creates them, it is simply wonderful and lovely to be gathered here all together as one community of many parts to celebrate what unites us all, the wonderful class of 2023.

Family and guests of the graduands, our shared love and admiration for those we gather to celebrate is already a bond between us. We hope the next few days strengthens those bonds. If you do not come to Encaenia already feeling like you also belong to King’s, I hope you do so by the time we say good-bye.

Thank you for everything you have done to encourage, support and inspire your graduand. They could not have done it without you. We are privileged to have had the opportunity to combine our efforts with yours in the most fulfilling of callings – helping students succeed.

Graduands, I ask you to begin our celebration of you by showering some love on all those who have helped you earn your degree and become who you have become, both those here with us and those who are with you in your hearts. Please give your biggest and most boisterous round of applause to your families and guests – and also to your faculty, coaches, friends, staff members and employers – and to everyone who has been in your corner as you climbed the mountain you have conquered.

Graduands, I turn to you by acknowledging that the quality of any university experience may depend most on who you go to university with. And there can be no university anywhere – and I say this as someone who has studied or worked at five of the very best – that has finer students than we have at King’s.

Class of 2023, I know I speak for all your faculty in saying you have been a joy to teach and to learn from. Like all my colleagues, I am grateful for all I have learned from you in the course of your many contributions to the wider life and the governance of the college.

Thank you for all you have done to support one another and to thereby make King’s a better university for each of you and all of us. You have been outstanding in contributing to each other’s education and enjoyment of your shared time at King’s, including during a pandemic. You have also been outstanding in making King’s better for those to come after you, including in its inclusiveness and its pervasive commitment to a culture of consent and respect.

It really has been an honour to be the president of your university and I hope in some ways, your president.

Colleagues and guests of the graduands, I end by asking you to join me in welcoming the class of 2023 to the President’s Dinner by giving them the first of the many rounds of applause they will rightly receive over the next few days.