Birgeneau, Reich give new students a sunny welcome to Berkeley

Monday’s New Student Convocation drew some 3,000 new freshman and transfer students to the newly renovated Greek Theatre as Chancellor Robert Birgeneau officially welcomed this year’s incoming class of undergraduates to UC Berkeley.

Surrounded by blue-and-gold banners and balloons, students, friends and families enjoyed a sun-filled afternoon of music, food and “Go Bears” spirit led by the California Straw Hat Band and a cappella group the Golden Overtones.

Birgeneau urged the incoming class to be “engaged and engaging” in driving Berkeley’s future excellence in academics, research and public service. The chancellor was joined on stage for the annual back-to-school event by Vice Chancellor for Student Services Harry LeGrande and ASUC president Connor Landgraf.

Robert Reich Convocation 2012

Chancellor and Mary Catherine Birgeneau listen as Robert Reich urges this year’s incoming class to make the most of the opportunities that await at Berkeley.

Assistant Vice Chancellor and Dean of Students Jonathan Poullard challenged the newest members of the campus community to help envision a better Berkeley than the one that welcomes them today.

Think about “how you will show up as a proud Cal Bear,” said Poullard. “How will you champion our principles to help us grow into the future?”

Featured speaker and professor of public policy Robert Reich echoed those sentiments, reminding students that they already possess the ingredients for success and encouraging them to seize a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for learning and growth.

“One of the greatest aspects of your education at Cal is how you will learn to navigate, use and take responsibility for this time of tremendous freedom you are about to enjoy,” said Reich.

After the ceremony, festivities spilled into the early evening as students were treated to a sunset barbecue on the hillside above. Welcome Week’s series of events, from campus tours to orientation workshops and lectures, continues through the end of the week. New undergraduates will have the opportunity to meet and chat with the chancellor at several invitation-only receptions.