Every September, Wieden Gymasium is filled with cheering, noisemakers, laughter, and song as the University celebrates its Fall Convocation, a new tradition meant to welcome the incoming freshman class as they join the UMPI family and to celebrate all UMPI students in their academic endeavors.
The hugely popular event is themed around the question, “Where Will Your Wings Take You?” which references UMPI’s snowy owl, and the name given to members of the campus community—UMPI Owls.
As part of Convocation, all new members of the campus community receive T-shirts that feature a white feather and the question “Where Will Your Wings Take You?” T-shirts are in various colors to represent individual academic programs—for example, light blue for Education, crimson for English, purple for Criminal Justice, and tie dye for Undeclared—and staff members receive blue T-shirts. Faculty, staff and upperclassmen and women (wearing their T-shirts they received during past Convocation events) then crowd the bleachers and cheer on the incoming class as they take part in a procession into the gym.
The UMPI President gives a welcome and the University’s new alma mater “Rise Up, Presque Isle” by folk singer/songwriter Ellis Paul is played. The induction of new students follows—students are called up to the stage by academic program to the cheers, spirit fingers and other celebratory props of their fellow majors. All new students are presented with their very own “wings” T-shirts by academic officials.
Following a special performance featuring a member of the incoming class, and “words of wisdom” by a member of the soon-to-be-graduating class, all of the classes are presented with their official class banners, a member of the Alumni Association delivers closing remarks, and new students participate in a jubilant recessional. The event caps off with a barbeque and Blue & Gold Block Party on the lawns between Wieden Hall and Folsom-Pullen Hall.
As a way to keep celebrating, UMPI has declared the third Wednesday of every month to be Wings Wednesday. All members of the campus community are encouraged to wear their special T-shirts on this day. They’re also invited to upload a photo or “selfie” to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with #UMPIowls for a chance to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card or a $50 Governors Gift Card. For the 2016-2017 academic year, Wings Wednesdays will take place on Sept. 21, Oct. 19, Nov. 16, Dec. 14, Jan 18, Feb. 15, March 15, April 19.