Opening convocation


Author, educator to help welcome Bluffton class of 2017

Lorene Cary, whose memoir, “Black Ice,” is this year’s summer reading for first-year Bluffton University students, will be the featured speaker Tuesday, Aug. 27, as Bluffton welcomes the class of 2017 at its annual opening convocation.

With faculty in regalia looking on, about 290 new first-year and transfer students will be introduced during the ceremony, which begins at 10:45 a.m. in Founders Hall.

Cary’s presentation, “What Colors are Yours—So Far?” will launch Bluffton’s 2013-14 civic engagement theme, “Race and Ethnicity in America: Celebration, Struggle, Opportunity.” Each year, the university focuses on a significant contemporary issue that is related to its mission and becomes the subject of cross-disciplinary exploration. For incoming first-year students, that exploration begins with a summer reading. This year’s book, an American Library Association Notable Book in 1991, tells the story of Cary’s transition from a West Philadelphia neighborhood to a newly integrated New Hampshire prep school in 1972.

Also a senior lecturer in creative writing at the University of Pennsylvania, Cary is the author of four other books and an essayist whose work has appeared in “Newsweek,” “Time,” “Essence” and “O, The Oprah Magazine,” among other publications.

In 1998, she founded Art Sanctuary, which offers programs of African-American arts and letters in inner-city Philadelphia. In December 2010, the public opening of The President’s House in Philadelphia introduced visitors to five videos—shot from Cary’s original scripts—that depicted the lives of nine African slaves in President George Washington’s household, as well as the free black men and women who helped two of them run to freedom.

She has received five honorary doctorates and, in 2003, earned her city’s highest civic honor, the Philadelphia Award, for her writing, teaching and arts activism. She and her husband, the Rev. Robert C. Smith, live in Philadelphia with their two daughters.