At Convocation, President Mark C. Anarumo tells students to sharpen their skills to better tackle world’s challenges

Learning is more than acquiring knowledge, Norwich University President Mark C. Anarumo said during his 2020 Convocation address, it’s learning to apply that knowledge to let students both think and act. Knowledge is of no use, he said, until it’s put to use. And with major challenges everywhere in the nation and world, tomorrow’s leaders will need to use, and apply, all they know.

Ordinarily, Convocation would have served as a fanfare-filled first-year introduction for Anarumo, who in June succeeded 28-year President Richard W. Schneider at Norwich’s helm. Anarumo would have stood on Shapiro Field House’s stage, as Schneider had in many past years, to gaze into a sea of faces — students, faculty and staff seated in row after row of metal folding chairs. Energy would have bounced fore and aft; the crowd would have applauded, cheered, high fived and hugged.

But in this time of coronavirus, with large gatherings eschewed and interaction happening mostly in distanced, 6-foot increments, Convocation went virtual. Gatherings have gone this way since March. Summer’s student sendoffs were piped through Zoom. Commencement and Homecoming will include broadcasts so students on campus and studying from home can join.

“This is a time to look at various intellectual enterprises and test them with your gut and ask yourself, ‘Does this move me?’” Norwich University President Mark C. Anarumo

Anarumo enters his presidency after 30 years in the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force. He served as Center for Character and Leadership Development director at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He encouraged students watching on their screens of choice to drink deeply from the well of knowledge without letting their thirst be slaked.

Anarumo also encouraged students to plan flexibly — data show that Generation Z’s members will change their careers seven times on average compared with one for Anarumo’s Generation X — and to brace for competition. Thousands of people will enter the job market with similar degrees, he said, but the difference will be experience.

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Norwich University Provost Sandra Affenito speaks at Convocation. She reminded students that Norwich’s community stands ready to promote them.

“Make every class, every encounter with a classmate, and professor and staff member count,” Anarumo said. “Ask tough questions and look around you. The differences here are powerful and amazing.”

To leverage that power, Anarumo said, students will need to seek the unfamiliar, be it people or topics.

“This is a time to look at various intellectual enterprises and test them with your gut and ask yourself, ‘Does this move me? Will the difference I create through this study move my soul?’

“If you’re not doing what you love and loving what you do,” he said, “nothing you accomplish will make a difference for yourself or for others.”

Amplifying Regimental Commander Caleb Miller’s earlier advice for this year’s rooks, Anarumo told students not to fear errors. Error-free people aren’t pushing themselves deep enough or far enough, he said.

“You don’t have permission to explore, you have a duty to explore. By exploring, you won’t get everything right, and that’s OK,” he said. “So, learn from your mistakes and this requires acknowledging them and owning them at the deepest part of your being,” he said. “The most important lesson you will learn throughout your education is the ability to learn from your mistakes.”

A formula for excellence

Pushing boundaries and learning from mistakes is a formula for becoming not merely good enough, but excellent, Anarumo said, and excellence will be necessary to lead in resolving daunting national and global challenges including the coronavirus pandemic, climate change, food insecurity and social injustice.

“We will not let you settle for good,” Anarumo said, “because great is in you.”

In her remarks, Provost and Dean of Faculty Sandra M. Affenito said convocation marks a milestone for students of all class years. For seniors, it represents culmination and fruition; the final stretch is in sight. For juniors, it represents solidification; for sophomores, exploration; for freshmen, transition.

Writ large, she said, the transition, prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, applies to all students. All are mastering learning across modalities, she said; all are adjusting to a campus experience with new rules. New and returning students will navigate new norms and unexpected experiences.

Normal isn’t back, not yet.

Nevertheless, she said, Norwich’s students can use the leadership, determination and perseverance they’ve mastered, or will master, to collectively conquer challenges academic, social and personal.

“While it is difficult to maintain a strong sense of community when we’re supposed to be distanced, know that Norwich is your family,” she said, “and that during this time, we are all here. We are here to create together lasting friendships and life-changing experiences.”

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Presidential Fellows serve as student liaisons to the Board of Fellows visiting committees and are selected based on evidence of exceptional academic performance.

College of Liberal Arts
Sarah Clark, psychology
Zac Jenkins, communications

College of Professional Schools
Brenden Apolinario, nursing
Jacob Folsom, computer science
David LaFontaine, architectural studies
Scott Swanson, management
Caileigh Travers, engineering

College of Science and Mathematics
Halee Lair, biology
AnnaLeigh Runion, exercise science


American History Award: William Haggerty
David L. Anderson Prize in Criminal Justice:  Alexis “Fergie” C. Ferguson
James J. Burke, Jr. Memorial Award: Macall Meslin
Cowdrey Awards for Excellence in English: creative writing, Juliet Sear; expository writing, Nicholas Landis
General Chemistry Award: Sara Morales
Demovick Family Scholarship for Mathematics: Trevor Bruno
Demovick Family Scholarship for Nursing: Killian Kozlowski
Demovick Family Scholarship for Science (Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Geology, Biochemistry) Macall Meslin
College of Liberal Arts Visiting Board of Fellows Award: Hannah Mendez Rockwood
College of Science And Mathematics Visiting Board of Fellows Award: K.C. Herne and Kathryn Farnum
Dean Mcintire Cup: Cadet Training Company 19-3
White Cup: Band Company


Civilians, Andrew Albano, Greyce Kelly Carmargo Silva, Sarah Farnum, Ann-Frederique Guay, Jenna Krussman, Shane Riley, Eric Scharf, James Stephens, Emma Theriault, Kaitlyn Trottier. Cadets, Ryan Cranston, Larmon Hamblin, Alexander Ku, Max Rizzi

Professor Ed Win “Ted” Marsden Freshman Mathematics Prize: Elizabeth Scalf

Professor Frank Vanecek Visiting Committee Award: School of Business and Management, Matthew Candy; School of Cybersecurity, Data Science, and Computing, Matthew Bento

Ernest N. Harmon Engineering Award: Chad Merrill

William D. Hassett Prize in Political Science: Kyle Hansen

Dennis L. Klinge Memorial Award: Scott Matthews


Civilian, Clara Alley; Cadets, Rafael Ribeiro, Elizabeth Scalf

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