As the new academic year began, the Franklin community gathered on the President’s Lawn on the Kaletsch Campus on September 5 for the convocation ceremony, a fall tradition at Franklin University Switzerland.   

This year, Professors Satomi Sugiyama and Clarice Zdanski welcomed the community to the occasion, and Professors Johanna Fassl and Caroline Wiedmer gave an inspiring overview of FUS’s Scholarships Without Borders initiative and gave special recognition to Tony Ziadah, who spent five years at Franklin earning dual degrees in Finance and International Management thanks to a scholarship but was unable to attend commencement in June 2023. Having been inspired by his own experience, Ziadah will continue his collaboration with FUS to raise funds for Scholarships Without Borders.

President Samuel Martín-Barbero gave a speech to open the new academic year, whose standout message was: “Franklin’s special nature resides in its people.” Franklin is indeed a unique place whose diverse population naturally promotes continuous learning from one another.  

Keynote speech by Dr. David Mills

Dr. David Mills, our keynote speaker in his first address as the new Dean of Academic Affairs, highlighted four mindsets:  

  1. Focus on who you are becoming – Convocation and Commencement bookend the university years—consider who you want to be at the graduation ceremony in four years and work towards that goal. A liberal arts education is more about who you are becoming than what you are becoming qualified to do.  

  2. Be an apprentice – The way students and teachers convened came from the medieval guild system, in which apprentices learned from the masters of a trade. They learned through careful mentorship by trying, failing, and trying again. The first liberal arts students at the University of Bologna and elsewhere weren’t afraid of taking risks. Let the landmarks of Europe remind you of the long tradition of learning you are now joining. Forge meaningful relationships with your faculty.  

  3. Take care of each other – Writer Hermann Hesse, who moved to Ticino between the two World Wars, once wrote: “Life is waiting everywhere; the future is flowering everywhere, but we see only a small part of it.” To see someone’s humanity is to recognize your obligation to them. Take the time to be kind, inclusive, and curious. Respect differences and experiences. Take the opportunity to learn with and from each other.   

  4. Stay open – Why? Ask this question repeatedly with childlike innocence, and you can get deep, fast. Aristotle reminds us that “philosophy begins in wonder.” All learning begins in wonder. It’s an attitude that comes naturally with children. Be kind, be curious, be helpful.  

Dr. Mills concluded his speech by sharing that Franklin is uniquely positioned to generate and reward that openness that hopefully never dies, even as we age.  

Tree Planting Ceremony

The convocation ceremony culminated in a symbolic tree-planting ceremony outside the Nielsen Auditorium led by President Martín-Barbero. The ritual was a beautiful reminder of the Franklin spirit to sow the seeds of knowledge in the hope of a fruitful future. Several members of the faculty, staff, and representatives from the incoming class and the SGA President, Gabriel Bader, participated in the memorable ritual. All enjoyed a reception to bring the ceremony to a close, marking the beginning of new and lasting relationships for the 2023-2024 Franklin community.