To kick off New Student Orientation, Dr. Joyce F. Brown welcomed FIT’s newest class of innovators, creators, and leaders. Her remarks, which can be seen below, challenged students to explore their new environment, make everlasting memories, and uphold the values of good citizenship.
“Every year at this time, I have the opportunity to greet a fresh new group of FIT students, and nothing—nothing—makes me happier. Because, you see, I am still remembering our commencement ceremony at Javits Center last May and feeling the excitement and pride of our graduating students in their caps and gowns. That is where I expect to see all of you two years from now, and for those of you going for a bachelor’s degree, yet again, two years later.
I want to welcome you not only to FIT, but to orientation. I don’t know if you know it, but this is the first time we have been able to gather together all of our entering students in one place—at the same time—to hold this ceremony. So it is quite special.
In the past, we held this opening ceremony on the FIT campus and because there are so very many of you—which makes us very happy of course—we would have to hold three separate ceremonies. So you are our pioneers.
We wanted to put all of you together so that you could get to know as many of your classmates as possible—not just the ones you will meet in your programs or in your residence halls. From the very start, we want you to feel that you are active and welcome members of the entire FIT community. So here we are at Hammerstein Ballroom, which as you see, easily seats all 2,000 of you.
During orientation, you will have the opportunity to get to know FIT better—as well as the many roles that you can play at FIT. So please enjoy the entire orientation period, including the barbecue that follows this ceremony.
Having been president of FIT for many years, I know what kind of journey you are starting today, as well as what a jolt of new talent, new energy, and new ideas you bring to FIT. I spent some time earlier this morning at a convocation for faculty—the professors you will meet in your classrooms, studios and labs—and they are as eager as you are to get started. As one of them told me, “Students come into my classroom as students, but they graduate as colleagues.” Now, some of you may wonder whether you will be able to live up to these high expectations. The answer to that question is absolutely“Yes.” You belong here. You would not be here today, right now, sitting in those seats, if you were not academically qualified, brave enough to test yourselves in one of the greatest, most competitive cities in the world, and above all else: talented.
You see, at FIT, talent is a basic student requirement. It expresses itself in many different ways and in every discipline at FIT, in our business classes as well as our art and design classes. And we are very good at recognizing it.
We accepted you as students because of your potential and because we know you can excel in FIT’s special environment. Part of that environment, of course, is our location in the center of New York City. We are surrounded by the city’s commerce, its cultural treasures, its dazzling shops and restaurants, its iconic landmarks, its buzz.
Equally important, we are closely linked with New York’s diverse business community. You will find that many of your professors are professionals who have carved out successful careers here in New York. FIT is a very important resource for them and their colleagues, and that makes you part of a vital New York connection. I hope you will take advantage of every opportunity that New York offers.
Whether you are a “new” New Yorker or a lifetime city resident, you will find studying here in the heart of the city exhilarating, challenging, and never ever dull.
But in order for you to use all of the opportunities you are offered, in order for you to really succeed in your time with us, you must focus on your work. We want you to be active learners, aggressive participants in your own education. Ask questions. Listen closely and thoughtfully, especially to the ideas of others. Be open-minded, curious. Experiment and collaborate with your classmates and professors.
We want you to leave FIT excited about what you have learned and eager to always learn more. We also want you to learn to be good citizens: citizens of the FIT community, citizens of New York City, of the country, and indeed, citizens of the world.
We are living now in a particularly troubled national and international environment, an environment filled with fear and distrust, bias, war, terrorism, and far too much ugly rhetoric. You will find that at FIT, values such as tolerance, inclusion, compassion, and civility are perhaps our most highly regarded. We hope that all of you will feel welcome here and be welcoming to others. These are the building blocks of good citizenship.
We encourage you to participate in all of the extracurricular activities you will learn about during orientation, including student government. That is part of being a good citizen, too. And when the time comes to vote in local and national elections—as it will very soon—we encourage you to participate in that as well. Get into the habit of voting. That is the ultimate badge of good citizenship, and a privilege we should never take for granted.
We are deeply committed to your success. So please come to us whenever you have a question or a comment. We will listen and do whatever we can to help. I hope you have an exciting and productive first year, and I look forward with great pride to watching your progress at FIT.”