President Susan Hockfield invoked MIT founder William Barton Rogers as she formally welcomed new students and their families on Sunday during the annual President’s Convocation in Killian Court.
“Let me state very clearly that we are lucky to have you join us,” Hockfield told the newest members of the MIT community. (Watch archived webcast here)
“You bring to our community your intelligence, your energy, and your life experience. You bring an enormous variety of languages, religions, regional backgrounds, and cultural perspectives. Above all, you bring your brilliant curiosity and your creative passion. You bring all these things to MIT, a transfusion of positive forces that inspires and invigorates the entire Institute,” she said. “Thank you for coming.”
Noting that the students were fortunate to arrive on campus on the eve of MIT’s 150th anniversary, Hockfield pointed to the legacy of Rogers, the Institute’s first president, as she urged students to “invent the future.” She discussed his love of science, his embrace of provocative new ideas and intellectual companionship, and his determination to use his gifts to serve the world. But she made a special reference to his powers of persuasion, and she suggested that the Class of 2014 would do well to follow his example.
“In the real world, the best technology doesn’t always win. Even the best idea rarely succeeds on its merits alone,” Hockfield said, urging students to hone their public-speaking and writing abilities while at MIT. “To persuade your colleagues, to win the next grant, to bring a new product to the marketplace, you need not only to produce superior science and engineering, you need to make a clear, relevant, compelling case for your ideas.”