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The Dawning of a New Era at CAU's 2019 Fall Convocation

In front of an estimated 1,500 engaged audience members, the new president of CAU encouraged students to not “give way to defeat”, but instead be “consistent and insistent” to achieve their ultimate goal in life at the 2019 Fall Convocation.

CAU students, faculty and staff attended the 31st convocation of CAU.

Photo taken by Derrian Carter.

Dr. George T. French, the 5th president of CAU, stated, “there is no doubt, we will win.” His speech motivated and inspired the students of CAU to never give way to despair, but to keep moving forward to reach their pinnacle.

On Tuesday, Dr. French took the public mantle of president and gave his Convocation address to formally introduce the new academic year in L.S. Epps Gymnasium. He described himself as “humbled” for the opportunity. “I feel blessed that together we are embarking on a new horizon for Clark Atlanta University,” Dr. French said.

This was the first time for many students to see and hear the new president speak, and based on their reactions, he did not disappoint. Not only did he shorten the length of his speech, to the delight of audience members, but his message to the CAU students was awe-inspiring. CAU Isabella T. Jenkins Honors Program sophomore student Alake Jacobs described his speech as “inspiring” and “great for convocation.” His speech motivated and inspired the students of CAU to never give way to despair, but to keep moving forward to earn their ultimate goal in life.

In addition, Dr. French put heavy emphasis on togetherness within CAU. From the beginning to the end of his address, his overarching message was to bring students, faculty and alumni together as a family. He stated, “This is the dawning of a new day in each of our lives… as collective, as collective constituents.” Throughout his speech, he constantly repeated “together” and “collective” in order to display his heavy emphasis on making CAU a family. Further, he went on to say that he has “the very best faculty to be found anywhere, not within the HBCU community, but to be found anywhere in higher education.” His message reinforced to CAU that no matter what the school confronts, they will be able to overcome it as a family.

Sophomore student Nhire King appreciated Dr. French’s focus on togetherness, saying they were “appreciated and needed, especially after the shooting a few weeks ago.”

Furthermore, Dr. French mentioned five pillars that exudes the “dawning of a new day” for CAU. The five pillars that will be “the grounds in which [CAU] will use to achieve and approach this new horizon” are excellence, engagement, discovery, creativity and service. The one pillar that he went in-depth on was excellence. He stated, “excellence has been a part of CAU’s landscape and horizon.” He detailed the history of CAU including: the members that helped consolidate Clark College and Atlanta University like Thomas W. Cole and the distinguished alumni that helped shaped CAU and the world like James Weldon Johnson. He proclaimed that their brand of excellence will continue through all students at CAU under his leadership.

Dr. George T. French Jr. earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with an emphasis in Policy Analysis from the University of Louisville. He received his Ph.D. in Higher Education from Jackson State University. Before becoming CAU’s president, he served as president of Miles College from 2006-2019.

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