President Wolk Presents Final Convocation Address

On Thursday, August 31 Castleton University officially opened the 2017-18 academic year with Fall Convocation as a standing room only crowd of more than 500 students, faculty, alumni, and staff members joined President Dave Wolk for his annual State of the University address in Casella Theater.

President Wolk welcomed the packed theater back to campus for the beginning of his 32nd and final semester at Castleton, urging all in attendance to "choose love."

Before Wolk was able to begin, he paused to soak it all in - "Wow! I wish you had my view. Seeing all of the students, faculty, staff, and alumni. It really is a beautiful thing. Such mixed emotions."

“We are and will always remain the small university with the big heart, with high expectations for students and staff, the University that helps students to transform themselves, the university that, with the help of its students, is transforming itself. And the university that has transformed me,” said Wolk.

Wolk reiterated last year's message of a campus that welcomes with "Open Arms," highlighting that point with a powerful reading of all 41 countries represented by Castleton's 102 international students. 

The theme of a welcoming community was brought to the fore as Wolk addressed recent events that were "ignored and tolerated" by national leaders. Wolk continued, "at Castleton we do not ignore and tolerate. We choose love."

"In the past month, we have witnessed events in this country that do not represent the accepting and respectful culture that we have developed at Castleton. Sadly, if not tragically, there are those in national leadership positions, among others, who have chosen hate over love. They have chosen to dismiss racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, and other forms of hatred in ways we have not seen before. Clearly, there is a simmering rage that at times seems to be tolerated or ignored by those in leadership positions.

At Castleton, we do not choose to ignore or tolerate.

We choose love.

We are part of an academy that encourages free speech, but we are also responsible for the values that we hold dear. We do not build ourselves up by tearing others down. We accept and respect individual differences. We do not tolerate hate or hateful behavior. We learn to live next to and live with people who might look or think differently, but with the full knowledge that we are all one family."


After recognizing new faculty and staff hires, the Castleton Alumni Association honored David Stebbins ’07 with the annual Outstanding Alumni Award and Gabrielle Tamasi ’12 with the Outstanding Young Alumni Award, before Wolk named senior multi-disciplinary studies major Tegan Waite the Commuter of the Semester.

Wolk’s address highlighted recent University projects, expansions, and partnerships. He shared news of Castleton's recent campus expansions and renovations, investments in new and innovate programs and services in Rutland, and the development of new and attractive undergraduate programs, such as Graphic Design.

“Our future demands that we continue to be entrepreneurial and innovative in our approach to our beloved university, and that is what we are doing on and off campus as we solidify our financial stability for future growth,” said Wolk.

Other exciting announcements included the recent completion of Castleton's second downtown Rutland residence hall located in the Gryphon Building, the continued partnership between Castleton and the Rutland Economic Development Corporation, and becoming a tobacco-free campus as of August 1. 

“This is a tremendously exciting time for all of us. It has warmed my heart to witness the absolute euphoria from our students, staff, alumni, and other friends over these years as we have cherished our transformation to Castleton University. In my sixteen years I have been but a passenger on this journey together as we have transformed lives, just as we have been transformed ourselves,” finished Wolk. “You have transformed me since 2001, and I will forever be grateful.”

Read President Wolk's full remarks online.