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From One New Emersonian to (Many) Others…

President Bernhardt stands at podium on stage
President Jay Bernhardt addressed the Class of 2027 at the Cutler Majestic Theatre on Wednesday, October 30. Photo/Sami Ahmad

Hundreds of new Emersonians – first-year and transfer students – piled into the Cutler Majestic Theatre on Wednesday, August 30, to hear from another newcomer: President Jay Bernhardt, who, three months into the job, had a plea for the audience.

“I moved to Boston in June … and I’m still trying to figure out a lot, which you will be too, including the best place to get pizza, the best spot for watching live music, where to get my hair cut,” Bernhardt said to laughs. “So, if you figure those things out, and you want to share with me, please let me know.”

After a high-octane percussive performance from drum group Grooversity (an experience Emerson students get exactly twice: on their first full day as students, and on their last, at Commencement), and an intro by Associate Director of Student Transitions Desiree Baker, Bernhardt welcomed the Class of 2027, and let them in on some things he has already figured out.

“[W]hat I do know with certainty is that Emerson is an extraordinary place, filled with creative and caring people, and that our Emerson community is made even better now because you are all part of it,” he said.

Bernhardt said he also knows that an Emerson education – built on making and doing, with a commitment to academic, artistic, and inclusive excellence – is “second to none.”

“And I firmly believe that the disciplines here, in communication, the arts, and the liberal arts … these topics are fundamental to addressing some of the greatest challenges that face our world today. What we study and what we practice are vital, not just in theory, but in real-world experiences. They bring people together and make our society better, safer, and more equitable,” he said.

Bernhardt urged new students to get involved outside of the classroom, in one of the myriad student organizations dedicated to a wide range of interests and values, and to lean on faculty, staff, and fellow students for support when needed.

“No doubt, you’ve already met some incredible, talented, caring individuals at Move-In and the residence halls, so don’t ever feel embarrassed or afraid to ask for help as part of your time here,” he said. “I do it all the time, and helping others is really the Emerson way.”

Bernhardt also emphasized Emerson’s commitment to inclusive excellence.

“Your ideas will be encouraged here, they’ll be welcomed here, and your curiosity and creativity will be nourished,” he told students. “Emerson will challenge you to be the best version of yourself, and enable you to find your passion and use your energy to make this a better place for all.”

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