Founders’ Day Convocation

On Founders’ Day, the University honors its proud history while welcoming the first-year class into Colgate’s community of scholars.

About the Day

Recognition of Founders’ Day and the welcoming of the first-year class is the capstone event of the orientation program before the start of the fall semester. It features a number of formal and symbolic traditions that initiate the first-year class as part of the institution’s academic community.

Students share a meal under a tent on Whitnall Field

Founders’ Day Dinner

Programming begins with a formal dinner for the first-year class under a tent on the lower campus. The incoming scholars are joined by university administrators and the Tredecim Honor Society. Sharing a meal as a class is an important part of solidifying the class bonds that have begun to form during orientation programming.


Faculty members in academic regalia process past the first-year class as part of the Founders' Day Convocation procession

Following the meal, first-year students form four separate groups according to their Residential Commons. The commons, led by their faculty and staff directors and affiliates, process up the hill toward the Academic Quad at the heart of campus in order of their founding:

  1. Ciccone Commons
  2. Hancock Commons
  3. Dart Colegrove Commons
  4. Brown Commons

The Tredecim Honor Society leads the full procession; its members carry with them torches or lights representing the light of knowledge.

When the procession reaches the Academic Quad, first-year students form a ring through which the faculty process to enter Memorial Chapel. The first-year students follow the faculty into the chapel and are seated for the Founders' Day Convocation ceremony.

The symbolism of this procession is a vital part of the Colgate experience. After four years on campus, the graduating seniors will process back down the hill, this time with each graduate carrying their own torch or light as they carry the knowledge they have acquired back out into the world.

Convocation Address

President Brian W. Casey addresses the first-year class at the Convocation Address

At the address, members of the first-year class are officially welcomed into the community of scholars by a keynote speaker, who is often a leading member of the University faculty. The speaker’s address expresses and explores the meaning, impact, responsibility, privilege, and excitement that comes with joining the Colgate community. Affiliation with Colgate is a new part of the incoming students’ identities — one that will last a lifetime.