Stillman College President Peter Millet stuck to a familiar theme on Thursday as he welcomed new students with a convocation message to dream big, remain focused and take advantage of the opportunities before them.
“Let me encourage you by saying success doesn't have anything to do with your environment and everything to do with your expectations. It doesn't matter what you are called, it matters what you answer to,” Millet said during the gathering in Birthright Hall.
Stillman welcomed a new class of about 242 students to campus, according Millet. The college's enrollment is around 656 this fall. Last year, the college welcomed about 375 new students and had a fall enrollment of approximately 927.
Millet noted it was a transitional year for the college as it shed some of its athletic programs including football over fiscal concerns while also focusing on new academic initiatives to attract new students. Most of the student who did not return were athletes, he said.
“Now, we will expect it will start to build back up once we get through this transitional year,” Millet said.
Millet's message Thursday was positive as he highlighted the college's recent recognition by the Alabama Historical Commission as a historic district, re-accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the college's centers of excellence, the success of gold medalist Jeff Henderson during the 2016 Summer Olympics, and achievements of Stillman's baseball and basketball programs.
In a convocation ritual, Millet also encouraged the new students to look ahead to graduation and mark May 9, 2020, on their calendars.
“On that day in May, we will be out there and you will be up here, and we will be applauding you,” he said.