Continuing a tradition that was reinaugurated during the university's tercentenary in 1993, William & Mary begins each fall with our Opening Convocation to celebrate the start of the academic session. On the first day of fall classes, faculty, staff and students gather at the Sir Christopher Wren Building to signify the beginning of the academic year and to officially welcome all of our entering William & Mary students.
At the conclusion of the ceremony each year, the official party leads those in attendance around the building to the opposite side. According to our tradition, all students who are new to W&M remain at the ceremony site with the university President. Then, at the tolling of the Wren Building bell, the President leads the group in a special procession through the portico of the building to the other side, where the new students are warmly welcomed by current members of the faculty, staff and student body. A festive campus-wide picnic dinner follows for the entire campus community.
Not unlike the Commencement exercises which mark the close of an academic session, this ceremony is a time of affirming and enhancing the sense of community which exists at William & Mary. It is a time of achieving focus, of highlighting themes we know to be important to our current condition, and of reaffirming those things we value and share.