The School of Diplomacy hosted its annual Dean’s Welcome Barbecue event on Friday, September 6. The social gathering took place on campus where students and faculty alike came together to share in the spirit of the Diplomacy community. It was a warm and welcoming atmosphere on the green where the event kicked off with games and light-hearted conversations among students and faculty members.
In his first address, Dean Courtney Smith welcomed returning upperclassmen students and faculty members of the Diplomacy community and extended a greeting to the freshmen students. Dr. Smith talked about the “Why Statement:” To encourage questioning, experimentation, and tenacity, so that each member of our community can be their best self for the good of all.
A collaborative effort among students, faculty, and administrators, this statement is representative of the impact the diplomacy community is having as a school. The purpose of this statement, according to Dr. Smith, is to encourage the process of thinking and understanding on why we are part of this community.
“As an academic institution, we have an environment with curriculum and classes where the faculty members are instructing the courses and engaging in a dialogue with students. Professors are here to encourage students to ask questions about themselves and the society around them, and most importantly to gain knowledge about how international politics is structured and in fact how it could have been structured a lot better.”
He went on to talk about how experimentation remains at the heart of the Diplomacy School. “There is a lot to do in Diplomacy. It is going to require experimentation to figure how we have to go about achieving our goals and what pieces of this big complexity of problems we have to address.”
Additionally, Dr. Smith talked about the importance of tenacity among students. “You’re preparing for a career that is probably going to have a series of jobs, so determination and tenacity to get through that is a crucial skill to work on nurturing within yourself as a quality while you are students here.”
Ending his speech, Dean Smith encouraged students to involve themselves in organizations that help them achieve their goals. “Everything you do here has to help you reach your own goals and has to be a part of the equation, otherwise you are not going to feel that sense of calling and purpose that you’re supposed to feel in the ‘Why Statement.’”
The event continued as various faculty members introduced themselves to the audience. They spoke on their academic specializations and expressed excitement to be working with new and returning students alike. The leaders of different student organizations introduced themselves and encouraged students interested in joining their clubs to reach out.
Professor Frederick McCormack-Hale spoke of the event as a wonderful opportunity for faculty members to meet and engage with students outside of the classroom in an informal environment. “I treasure these moments because it’s nice to get out here and meet students I’ve never seen and who might be interested in learning more about my specialization and classes I offer.” For this semester, Dr. McCormack-Hale is heading an online specialization course at the graduate level.
“My focus, really, is figuring out how to strengthen the quality of our online program in the sense of building more of a community. So, all we have is our online environment and I’m trying to make sure that they maximize that as best as possible and that they make connections with each other while at the same time enjoying their classes.”
Kaitlyn Akroush, a freshman diplomacy student, expressed her gratitude for having gotten the opportunity to engage with upperclassmen students and members of the faculty at the event.
“I am excited to be a part of such a diverse and rich community where everybody is so accessible to you, and you can make those connections to eventually foster a successful career in the future and progress your academic experience here at Seton Hall.”
The Welcome BBQ event succeeded in gathering the students and the faculty as a community. It shows what the School of Diplomacy has to offer to all those wanting to bring about a change within the global community. The success of the event assures a promising year, where old boundaries will be crossed, and new goals will be set to further the initiatives of the School of Diplomacy.