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2023 Encaenia
President Lahey’s Introductory Remarks at King’s 233rd Encaenia

President Lahey's Introductory Remarks at King's 233rd Encaenia

Delivered May 25, 2023

With our Chancellor, Debra Dean Little, and my colleague, Dr. Frank Harvey, it is an honour to welcome you to the 233rd Encaenia of the University of King’s College, one of the birthplaces of university education in Canada.

And welcome to the Encaenia of the amazing King’s graduating class of 2023!

We are honoured today to have our Minister of Advanced Education, the Honourable Brian Wong, with us. Welcome Minister Wong. Thank you for being here for our graduates.

We gather for this Encaenia during the 100th anniversary of the association between Dalhousie and King’s that makes this gathering two celebrations in one: a King’s Encaenia and a Dalhousie Convocation. I ask you to keep this in mind if you start to ask yourself questions like, I wonder how long this ceremony is going to last; is there going to be an intermission; or, will this ever end?

Together, Dalhousie and King’s offer a unique hybrid model of higher education that combines a college experience with the rich academic diversity and specialization that can only be found at a leading university of Dalhousie’s breadth and quality. It is a partnership that has stood the test of time.

This Encaenia is also happening during our celebration of the 50th anniversary of our Foundation Year Program, FYP, the original “seminal books” program in Canada. FYP defines us as the small university that grounds undergraduate education in the biggest of ideas. We are, in many ways, the university of the book, which now includes all the books being written by our graduates in the King’s-Dalhousie MFA in Creative Non-Fiction, the first degree of its kind in Canada, soon to be joined by our second MFA degree in creative writing.

We will soon applaud each of our graduands as they cross the stage, and rightly so. Among their varied accomplishments is one that unites them: they have together persevered in a global pandemic and its wake. I am confident they know they have done it together in many other ways as well. For example:

• Most of you graduating with bachelor’s degrees in arts, journalism, science and music have conquered FYP together, giving you an intellectual foundation for lives and careers you will forever share. Additionally, you have all embraced your place in the communities of learning of the diverse fields of upper year studies you have pursued at Dalhousie and King’s.
• Those of you graduating with your journalism honours degree have together produced your own online newspaper, the award-winning Signal, and those of you receiving your BJ or MJ degrees have been through a crash introduction to journalism that is not only like a boot camp but is actually called boot camp.
• And, MFA grads, you have honed your writer’s craft by forming a community of writing with each other and your mentors.

These are just a few examples of how learning at King’s and Dalhousie lives up to “the precepts of communal living and learning” of the King’s Matriculation oath. In a time when social isolation is causing so much harm and loss, this is no small thing.

To honour how our graduates have lived and learned together in community through turbulent times, I ask the rest of us to rise in our places as we are able, here and on livestream, to give the brilliant, caring and beautiful class of 2023, the loud and sustained ovation they collectively deserve.

Graduands, this Encaenia is about you and your families and friends. It is however also a celebration of some larger themes. At every Encaenia:

• We celebrate the role that interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary education in the arts, sciences, journalism and fine arts plays in shaping the widely educated citizens our world needs to solve complex problems, create opportunities and help the world be a more beautiful and humane place.
• We celebrate the role that independent journalism in the public interest plays in strengthening and preserving our democracy, now in an age of disinformation, misinformation and the polarization they feed.
• And we celebrate the enduring power of books, and of the bond between writers and readers, to delight us and to help us understand ourselves and our world and provoke us to action.

Graduands, Encaenia means beginning: your beginning. These larger themes anticipate the futures lying before you. The degrees you receive today matter and they represent the difference in the world you are and will make. Our outstanding honorary degree recipients, Kathryn Burton and Kim Kierans, are wonderful exemplars: both have built their careers of distinction, accomplishment and service upon BA degrees conferred in earlier Encaenia. They know the relevance and power of your degrees will only increase as your experience of the world expands.

We here at King’s and Dalhousie are full of pride for what you have accomplished and the people you have become in our shared academic community. We look forward to our new relationship with you as members of the King’s alumni association, Canada’s oldest alumni association.

For today, go with our love knowing you will remain in our hearts and that you will always be welcomed back with open arms to your college and to both of your grateful universities.