Convocation has been part of the Willamette community since its introduction in the 1990s by the previous University Chaplain, Charles Wallace. Now, it is a weekly event held weekly in Cone Chapel on Thursdays from 11:30 to 12:30 p.m. where students, faculty and professors have a place to have facilitated discussions on topics important to the Willamette community. Convocation is a good event to attend and more people would benefit from attending or getting involved with it because of the wealth of information it provides to the Willamette community.
For the last eight years, Karen Wood, the University Chaplain has taught the class that puts on this weekly event. The current Convocation class is made up of seven students, but is limited to about 10 students per semester.
According to Wood, Convocation should be “mind opening, challenging [and] should create community if possible.”
As a student-driven event, part of the task of the class is to propose and set up different Convocations that would be interesting to the community as a whole. Often, these topics are unique to Willamette.
According to Lucia Mosca (‘22), who was in the class last semester, she joined the class because she wanted to attend more Convocations. In particular, she said that two of her favorites were “Religion At Willamette” and “History of Activism at Willamette University.”
“Religion at Willamette” featured a panel of students representing different faiths and religious groups on campus, while “History of Activism” featured six events of campus activism from the late 1960s to the present day through photos of protests, as well as articles printed in the Collegian.
Deciding whether a particular topic will incite people to attend Convocation has always been difficult, because the number of people who attend fluctuates with the topic and the semester. “If I knew the secret formula for getting lots of folks to Convo, I would apply it,” Wood said.
Previously, students had to choose between lunch and attending Convocation because of the posted no food or drink sign, but Wood said, “We would like for folks to ignore that.”
Students have tried many different ways of advertising to increase Convocation attendance numbers: through @wuconvocation on Instagram, social media posts, posters and announcements in the Today@Willamette calendar, as well as encouraging anyone they know to come to see it.
Through this process, students have learned event planning skills, organizing speakers and discussions that would engage the greater community.
“The class was helpful in learning about what it takes to present an event, both at Willamette specifically and general planning,” said Mosca.
This Thursday, Feb. 6, there will be a panel of four Willamette professors talking about their perspectives on the impeachment proceedings. Then, on Feb. 13, there will be a discussion about plant-based milk alternatives, including a milk taste test and conversations about sustainability, environmental impacts and nutritional value.
With a small time commitment to attend weekly Convocations and a wide variety of topics to choose to engage in throughout the semester, Convocation is a good place to have a discussion about topics that matter to the students, faculty and professors on Willamette’s campus. It’s a place for people to meet others outside of their classes, learn about topics they’re interested in and discover resources they might not have known were available to them.