MTSU Convocation featuring 'Walking to Listen' author welcomes Class of 2026

Aug 17, 2022 at 10:12 am by WGNS

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Middle Tennessee State University’s Convocation for new students will usher in the 2022-23 academic year and marks the official start of the fall semester.

Convocation will be held starting at 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 21, in Murphy Center for freshmen and new transfers, other returning students, family members and alumni. The free event featuring Summer Reading Program author Andrew Forsthoefel is open to the public.


Event organizers request those planning to attend to arrive early, as it is a Connection Point activity for the new students needing to enter with a QR code. More than 4,000 people are expected to attend. The event will be livestreamed to

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Convocation is an MTSU tradition for the entering Class of 2026. It is hosted by President Sidney A. McPhee and Deb Sells, vice president of Student Affairs. New students will take the True Blue Pledge, led by Student Government Association President Jada Powell.

“Convocation marks a new beginning and official welcome to our new students,” said Gina Poff, Office of New Students and Family Programs director.

MTSU administrators, deans and faculty members will wear academic regalia in “honoring our newest members of the MTSU community,” Poff said, adding the Band of Blue will perform the Olympic Fanfare. Incoming Faculty Senate President Stephen Salter and Powell will add their welcomes.

Forsthoefel wrote “Walking to Listen,” a travel memoir about his 4,000-mile walk across the U.S. and the people he met after graduating from Middlebury College in 2011.

“MTSU is delighted and honored to host Andrew Forsthoefel as our Convocation keynote speaker,” said Laurie Witherow, associate vice provost for Admissions and Enrollment Services. She believes students will gain wisdom from both the book and his message.

For Forsthoefel, it was a year of radical vulnerability and remarkable connection, with people across the vast and varied spectrum of American humanity. The book tells the stories of these encounters. It is a documentation of what’s possible with the ability and willingness to listen.

Witherow said a number of faculty have indicated they plan to incorporate the book in their class schedules.

Back to School Bash, Fan Day

While on campus, Forsthoefel will attend the Back to School Bash at 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20, in the Student Union Commons to sign copies of his book.

McPhee and first lady Elizabeth McPhee will host Forsthoefel for lunch before Sunday’s Convocation.

Following Convocation, MT Athletics has planned Fan Day beginning at 3 p.m. in Floyd Stadium. 

MTSU fall classes begin Monday, Aug. 22.

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