Alumni & Friends
What’s Happening
2024 Encaenia
President Lahey’s Introductory Remarks at 234th Encaenia

President Lahey's Introductory Remarks at 234th Encaenia

Delivered May 23, 2024

Hello everybody! Hey! Thank you Tom for the introduction.

With our Chancellor Debra Deane Little and my presidential colleague Kim Brooks – Kim Brooks is experiencing her first King’s Encaenia – welcome Kim!

It is really an honour and a joy to welcome you here to the 234th Encaenia of the University of King’s College. Not many universities can say that. So, this means that this is the 100th Encaenia to be celebrated in association between King’s and Dalhousie.

And to put one more anniversary on top, I think all our graduates would probably know that our Clerk of Convocation, Dr. Tom Curran, retired from full-time teaching this year. So it seems appropriate to say that this is the 20th Encaenia presided over by Dr. Thomas Curran. Thank you, Tom.

Elder Ann, I just want to add my thanks to your for the welcome that you provided to us to the territory of the Mi’kmaq and acknowledge what you said about being treaty people – that we are all treaty people. And to respond by acknowledging that we need to do the work to be treaty people.

And I want to express the gratitude of King’s for the guidance we receive from Mi’kmaw partners, including those who join us on our Mawaknutma’tnej circle, for all we are learning about how to live in that responsibility and opportunity.

And I also want to acknowledge as we gather, that African Nova Scotians are a distinct people whose histories, legacies and contributions have enriched, and are enriching, Mi’kma’ki and Nova Scotia for over 400 years.

And we are grateful for the growing partnership we are co-creating with African Nova Scotian communities and organizations, including through our partnership with the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia.

Graduands. Welcome. Today belongs to you.

Everyone else, please stand as you are able and join me in delivering a heartfelt and sustained ovation for the formidable class of 2024.

That was very sustained.

That, graduands, is the sound of love.

And our wish for you today is that you feel the love. And trust in your heart that it is an abiding love that goes with you and will always be with you. And we hope you will always know you are worthy of love. And that you draw from the love around you today in all the days to come.

So, let me ask you to give some love in return.

I know you can make a big noise. So, let’s hear your biggest ovation for the family, friends and your guests, as well as your faculty and all the staff who have supported you, and everyone who’s been in your corner through your journey.

Let’s hear it. Up you go!

Also sustained.

It might be a good moment to say that, whereas Dalhousie has, I think, 20 graduations, we have one.

But we make ours last.

The accomplishments we celebrate today defy brief description. Many of you began in a world of pandemic isolation. Yet you forged friendships, expanded your horizons, pondered the greatest of questions and opened yourself to each other and ideas that changed you – all while in lockdown.

Then, with those coming behind you, you reconstructed the rich culture of our university’s communal life – in theatre, music, clubs and societies, in the Wardroom, the galley, the chapel and in varsity sports. You are truly remarkable.

Your bachelor of arts, journalism, science and music degrees are a recognition of all you have  learned throughout your degrees, including in the upper year courses that gave you the opportunity to continue learning together and to deepen your expertise in a diverse range of majors, double majors, minors and certificates.

For some of you, this meant writing a thesis or a major paper that is the biggest thing you’ve ever written.

For others, a final recital, and others still, contributions to the award-winning online paper at King’s, The Signal, or to journalism’s Big Day.

Those of you here to receive your BJ or MJ made it through a crash introduction to journalism that is not only like a boot camp, but we actually call it Boot Camp. And yet you signed up.

In the MFA programs, you built a community of writers that spans a diverse array of backgrounds, muses and indeed an entire continent. And you have all dug deep within yourselves to bring into being that thing we love above all else at King’s: a really good book.

So, your degrees represent incredible and varied accomplishments. They also represent the hope that is the premise of all education.

What you have accomplished and created individually and collectively is, and must be, an inspiration for all of us about living and learning in community.

No matter how many times we gather for Encaenia, we must never lose sight of the inspiration we take from the hopefulness with which each graduating class has pursued its goals and the hopefulness their, your, example offers to us all.

I want to encourage you to hold on to your hopefulness and to the hopefulness of this day, in the same way I encourage you to hold on to the love that is now all around you.

I am far from an expert.

There are days when my own hopefulness wavers. But I have come to the view, including over the eight years of the joy of being president of King’s, our beautiful little college, that if we want things to be better, we need hope most when things seem most hopeless.

Recently, New York Times journalist, Nicholas Kristof, described journalism as an “act of hope.”

I believe the same is true for earning a degree in journalism, or one in the liberal or fine arts, or in science. In part at least, this is because asking difficult, insightful, moral and ethical questions, ones all your communities will need to ask, that all communities need to ask, is the very core of the work of hopefulness.

And it is also the core work of King’s.

This is where your hopefulness can make a huge difference.

For I know all of you well enough to know that you specialize in asking better questions. And whatever path you choose, I know you will find that people who ask better questions are invariably crucial to making things better.

Contrary to what some may think, hopefulness which sees through both optimism and pessimism to the possibilities that each of them may overlook, is not wishy-washy, but like love, tough and courageous.

I like the exploration of hope that appears in Shakespeare scholar Jessica Riddell’s recent book, Hope Circuits. She challenges those who think hope, quote, “is this delicate ephemeral thing made of whispers and spiders webs,” and she agrees with others who portray hope as a fighter with grit who keeps going in the face of adversity and gets back up when knocked down.

On the other hand, I know you know that hope is also gentle and patient. And, like love, it abides for us whether we nurture it or not, so that it can be there for us when we need it and we are ready to rely upon it.

And this is what I get from the following beautiful poem from Emily Dickinson.

Hope’ is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –

And sings the tune without the words –

and never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –

And sore must be the storm – that could

That could abash the little Bird

that kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –

and on the strangest Sea –

Yet – never – in Extremity,

it asked a crumb – of me.

We wish you all the very best and all the strength and fortitude that love and hope provide – when we let them.




2024 encaenia main page