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The Opening Convocation was moved to September in 1962, replacing the Fall Honors Convocation which was previously held in October. It was restarted in 1993 with the College's 300th anniversary, and marks the beginning of the new academic session. Held on the Sunken Garden side of the Wren Building, it includes the formal introduction of the Freshman Class.


1962 Davis Y. Paschall, W&M President

1963 Davis Y. Paschall, W&M President

1964 Davis Y. Paschall, W&M President

1965 Davis Y. Paschall, W&M President

1966 Davis Y. Paschall, W&M President

1967 Davis Y. Paschall, W&M President

1968 Davis Y. Paschall, W&M President

1969 Davis Y. Paschall, W&M President

1970 held on Sept 18, no articles in Flat Hat or Colonial Echo, speaker probably Davis Y. Paschall, W&M President

1971 Thomas A. Graves - W&M President

1972-1992 Opening Convocation not held during these years

1993 Maya Angelou – Author and Poet. First Opening Convocation since 1971

1994 Charles McDowell – Political Columnist

1995 David McCullough – Author and Historian

1996 Father Charles A. Kelly - campus minister from St.Bede’s Catholic Church

1997 Mark D. Gearan – Peace Corps Director

1998 William Barr – former US Attorney General

1999 Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune columnist

2000 Andrew Zawacki, class of '94

2001 Michael Powell, '85, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission

2002 David Brown ’78 - Space Shuttle Columbia Astronaut (died Feb 2003 when Columbia shuttle disintegrated during re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere)

2003 James B. Comey ’82 - former U.S. Deputy Attorney General

2004 Sarah Kemp Brady, ’64 – Political Activist

2005 John Lewis – US Congressman

2006 Warren W. Buck, Ph.D., '76- former chancellor of the University of Washington-Bothell and prominent physicist

2007 Dr. Michelle Whitehurst-Cook ’75 - Associate Dean for admissions to the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical School

2008 Rhian Horgan ’99 - JP Morgan executive

2009 James B. Comey ’82 - former U.S. Deputy Attorney General

Share Your Memories

Do you want to share your memories of recent or past Opening Convocations? You are welcome to create an account and add your memories to this section of the SCRC Wiki page or if you prefer, contact University Archivist Amy Schindler ( or 757-221-3094). In either case, please include your name and class year. We look forward to hearing from you.

Need help?

To search for further material, see Finding Materials in the SCRC for an introduction to the SCRC Collections Database, card catalogs, Flat Hat-William & Mary News-Alumni Gazette index, etc.

Questions? Contact the SCRC at or 221-3090, or visit the Special Collections Research Center in the Earl Gregg Swem Library at the College of William and Mary (hours).

A Note About The Contents Of This Wiki
Unfortunately, many of the early original records of the College of William and Mary were destroyed by fire, military occupation, and the normal effects of time. The information available here is the best available from known documents and sources at the time it was written. Information in this wiki is not complete as new information continues to be uncovered in the SCRC's collections and elsewhere. Researchers are strongly encouraged to use the SCRC's access tools for their research as the information contained in this wiki is by no means comprehensive.