Things change, but things seem to stay the same. Robert Khayat, chancellor emeritus and author of “Education of a Lifetime,” related his college experience to that of the incoming freshmen and transfer students as the keynote speaker for fall convocation Tuesday in Tad Smith Coliseum.
Khayat started off his speech talking about his freshman year at Ole Miss. He talked about how anxious and homesick he was at first, but how his chemistry teacher made him more at ease in the new environment. Even though he scored an eight on his final exam during his first summer semester, his teacher gave him a passing grade.
Khayat said organizations and individuals would be essential resources for students.
“The icing on the cake is that you’ll meet very bright faculty, staff and students,” Khayat said.
Khayat continued using his college experience as an example of the opportunities and challenges ahead for new students. Khayat said choices may not end after graduation, but those made while in college are of great significance.
Khayat’s own decisions during his college career ranged from the spiritual to the pragmatic. In his speech, Khayat highlighted decisions to treat class attendance and preparation seriously, as well as to take advantage of academic counseling available on campus. He also, however, mentioned his decision that life should be lived happily.
“I learned that the faculty cared deeply about their students, if only they would ask,” Khayat said. “You are a member of a caring community. They are here to love you.”
Khayat graduated from law school at Ole Miss in 1966, having returned after playing four years in the NFL as a kicker for the Washington Redskins.
Other speakers at Fall Convocation included Melinda J. Sutton, Acting Provost Noel Wilkin, Interim Chancellor Morris Stocks, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Brandi Hephner LaBanc, and Associated Student Body President Rod Bridges.
Aaren Avera, a junior integrated marketing communications major, said Khayat’s speech was funny and engaging.
“I really loved the two words he left us with,” Avera said. “The choices and opportunities.”
Holly Newman, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, said Khayat’s speech was the highlight of the evening.
Newman encouraged future freshmen to attend their own convocations.
“It was a welcoming event,” Newman said. “You learn some history.”
Convocation ended with the reading of the University Creed and the Alma Mater. All of the students who attended were also allowed to sign the creed and given the opportunity to get Khayat to sign their copies of “Education of a Lifetime.”