Opening Chapel Displays University Pride and TraditionOct. 3, 2012
New students come and go at all institutions each and every year and Lubbock Christian University is no exception. What never waivers, however, is the tradition, the pomp and circumstance and the reverence – or sometimes the lack thereof – of opening chapel ceremonies to begin each new academic year.
The 2012-13 academic year on the LCU campus got off to an official start during the annual chapel service that proudly serves as the traditional beginning to the year. First-year LCU president, L. Tim Perrin, had the honor of declaring the academic year officially open by saying those crucial words: “I hereby officially declare the 2012-2013 academic year open at Lubbock Christian University.”
Perrin also had a little fun with the students, faculty and staff gathered in the McDonald Moody Auditorium as he pointed to a group of half dozen students adorned in robes and graduation caps, obviously in honor of the faculty being dressed in their official regalia (which, by the way, is the reason this particular tradition is known among the student body as Hogwarts chapel, paying homage to the Harry Potter book and movie series) as they always are for opening chapel. “Perhaps we will have everyone in caps and gowns in the years to come,” he said, shortly after opening his comments by saying “… now, I want everyone in the audience to stand and introduce yourself.” Laughter, it appears, will be a benchmark of his tenure as the new campus leader.
The ceremony on Monday marked the 56th opening chapel ceremony in the history of Lubbock Christian University since the school opened in 1957. The service brings students of all academic levels together to worship, sing and pray together as well as be introduced to new faculty members at the university.
“Opening chapel, or Hogwarts chapel as it is so affectionately called through the student body, is probably the most exciting chapel of the year,” said LCU senior Tiffany Greene. “Besides being reunited with all of your friends who were gone all summer, the entire ceremony really brings about a sense of enthusiasm and excitement about the coming year. Seeing all of our professors in all their regalia, introducing new faculty who are joining our family, recognizing the student body … all of it brings about a sense of community and love as we open the school year.”
The day opened with enrollment figures of 2,094 for LCU, which is ahead of the 12th day enrollment of 2011. Those numbers will likely fluctuate over the next couple of weeks until the official enrollment reporting day arrives, which is the 12th day of classes.
University Provost, Dr. Rod Blackwood, opened the service by welcoming those in attendance as well as explaining the tradition behind the regalia worn by faculty members. He also introduced the campus staff as a group for recognition, then class-by-class all of the students were asked to stand collectively. He later introduced the Student Senate members on hand and had them stand to be honored.
Blackwood then turned the program over to the Dean’s of each of the three colleges, who were to introduce their new faculty members as well as recognize their entire college. The three deans did their best to “one-up” each other in their opening comments.
Dr. Jesse Long, Dean of the College of Biblical Studies and Behavioral Sciences, said in his opening statement “On behalf of the College of Biblical Studies and Behavioral Sciences, the heart of the university, I would like to introduce our new faculty members.” Dr. Long then welcomed five new faculty members to the college, including Shawn Tyler, who has returned to the United States after 31 years of mission work in Africa, from Kenya to Uganda. Tyler replaces longtime LCU faculty member Jim Beck, who is now in Africa himself doing mission work. When Beck returns for the spring semester, both men will be on the LCU faculty.
“We are the life blood that goes through the heart of the university,” responded Dr. Susan Blassingame, Dean of the Hancock College of Liberal Arts and Education. She then introduced three new members of her college’s faculty, including a distinguished member of the group, former LCU president, Dr. Steven Lemley (1982-1993).
Finally, Dr. Gary Estep, who is currently serving in a temporary role as the Dean of the B. Ward Lane College of Professional Studies, said “ … when the other two colleges need resuscitation they call on us.” Dr. Estep introduced just one new member of the college’s faculty as he recognized Dr. Amanda Boston, saying, “if you need advice on running a marathon, Dr. Boston is your person to talk to.”
Following the introductions the chapel audience sang together, led by Dr. Philip Camp, “Come Thou Almighty King” and “Shout Hallelujah.” A prayer by student senate president, Allen Burrows, followed just before President Perrin made the official announcement of the new school year beginning.
“I’ve been waiting a long time for this day to come,” said Perrin, who was officially seated in office on June 1st. “It is amazing the providence that God has provided LCU in the past and I am thrilled to be here and share in the future.”
The traditional singing of the LCU alma mater wrapped up the ceremonial start to the 2012-13 school year.
“Even though I’m an employee and no longer a student, opening chapel still makes me feel a rush of anticipation,” said Lauren Sportsman, a 2012 LCU graduate, who is now the Honors Recruiter and Academic Coordinator for the university. “It’s as if the school year can’t really begin until we see the professors in full graduation regalia. This time-honored tradition reminds me of the role I have in LCU’s legacy, which charges and inspires me to do my very best.”
It is likely that some 56 years ago when this tradition began, those in charge were hopeful that the impact would resonate for generations to come. That mission, it would seem, is accomplished.