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The University is welcoming international students from 20 countries this semester. President Senese welcomed incoming international students Aug. 23 as they started their orientation.
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Caldwell University welcomed the Class of 2027 at its New Student Convocation Aug. 28.  Students, parents, Sisters of Saint Dominic, faculty and staff gathered to celebrate the start of university life for the incoming students. 

It is important to pause at the beginning of each academic year to “recall our history of faith and reason, service and scholarship,” said Ellina Chernobilsky, Ph.D., interim vice president for academic affairs. She noted how the University’s history dates back to “800 years of engagement and discernment,” which stems from the foundation built by St. Catherine of Siena and St. Dominic de Guzman.

The invocation was given by Sister Kathleen Tuite, O.P. Quoting Psalm 118, she prayed, “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us be glad and rejoice in it!” 

“We call upon God’s blessing on you–that God will guide you and bless you,” said Sister Kathleen in her prayer for the students.   

Caldwell’s tenth President, Jeffrey Senese, Ph.D., welcomed the students as well as their parents and family members to the University. “The beginning of college marks one of the most important times in your lives…It will go by in an instant when you look back on it.” To emphasize the point, he asked Dr. Chernobilsky to present him with the Class of 2027’s class watch. “This watch marks the beginning,” said Dr. Senese. He explained how it will be placed on the mace at every official University event. “At commencement, you’ll see it for the last time….don’t ask me why. I’ll tell you at commencement.”  

President Jeffrey Senese, Ph.D., welcomes the Class of 2027 at the 2023 New Student Convocation. 

Quoting from the work of the writer J.R.R. Tolkien, President Senese said, “‘All we have to do is to decide what to do with the time that is given us.’ My action today, our action today, signifies that your time has begun. It is time for you to decide how to use that time.”   

He encouraged the students to keep their eyes on the goal.  “The degree is the goal…It’s the representation of your accomplishments…Plant that in your head.”  He challenged them to make a difference for themselves and others,  to drive their own intellectual and professional development, to build on their creativity and critical thinking abilities so the value of their education will be strengthened over the course of their lifetimes. “One way to accomplish that is to read. Not tweets, Instagrams or posts, but really read. There is no better way to exercise your brain and intellect,” said Dr. Senese.  

Welcome remarks from the Sisters of St. Dominic were given by Sister Lena Picillo, O.P., who outlined the  Dominican pillars of prayer, study, community and service. “We’re not just a University. We’re a Dominican University…bringing truth and hope to a world in despair.” The work of reaching out to others continues today, said Sister Lena. She highlighted Caldwell University’s mission of welcoming students of all cultures and faith backgrounds and the richness of that diversity. “We’re the diamond on the hill.” 

Student Government Association president Marialis Nunez also welcomed the students, encouraging them to take advantage of all the opportunities Caldwell offers for students to refine themselves and become leaders. “Strive for excellence… we will be your guide around campus,” said Nunez. She led the students in the University Pledge. 

SGA President Marialis Nunez addresses new students

Each student received a pendant with the Caldwell University Seal. The explanation was provided by Stephanie Sitnick, Ph.D., interim associate dean/Calman Associate professor in the School of Psychology and Counseling.

Chernobilsky recognized students who had been named to the dean’s list for two semesters in the 2022-23 academic year and led them in the formal pinning.  

The processional music was provided by Caldwell University Drumline, directed by Joe Bergen, percussion instructor, and Christina McCoy, drum captain. The “Star-Spangled Banner” was sung by Kasandra Gonzalez and Tatyana Rodriguez. The CU chorale led the community in singing the Dominican Blessing. 

Class of 2027 Prayer

God of every journey, every path writes a story, every step today marks the road for tomorrow and every choice will tell the tale of our lives. We are the class of 2027. We come filled with the life and energy ready to learn, to seek, and to build the story of our lives together. We will tell it in the richness of our cultures; we will live it in the fire that burns in our hearts. The road opens wide before us, accompany us as we journey. Give light to our desires and wisdom to our choices. We come seeking knowledge and truth to become leaders who work for social justice and welcome the stranger as we collaborate in the service of our neighbor. Make every day we spend at Caldwell University a day of transformation and hope for our humanity. Make our efforts fruitful and protect us every day from harm. Amen.

About the University Seal

Caldwell University was founded in 1939 by the Sisters of St. Dominic, which the coat of arms reflects. The coat of arms captures the significance of a Caldwell University education in its colors, its motto and its symbols. The red indicates the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the gold points to His kingship. The motto–Sapientia et Scientia (wisdom and knowledge)–is imprinted on an open book, which symbolizes Caldwell University as an institution of learning. The motto is derived from the Litany of the Sacred Heart. The cross, which divides the whole into four parts, is taken from the coat of arms of the Order of Preachers (the followers of St. Dominic) and it shows the relationship of the Sisters of St. Dominic as members of the Order of Preachers to Caldwell University. The golden sun, which is found in the upper left corner, is the symbol of St. Thomas Aquinas, patron of all Catholic schools and particular patron of Caldwell University.

Read President Senese’s full remarks here

Top Photo: President Jeffrey Senese with incoming CU international students.