The resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic prevented a full-scale celebration of a new academic year at Merced College today, but the college’s annual Convocation event was held on campus for the first time since 2019, which gave the hundreds of employees in attendance plenty of reason for joy and optimism.

President Chris Vitelli led the festivities, which included an inspirational keynote address from renowned speaker Dr. Rick Rigsby, campus updates and introductions of new employees, free food and other giveaways, and the announcement of annual employee award winners. The day also included a number of meetings and workshops to help employees prepare for the year ahead.

“We’re thrilled to have you back,” Vitelli said. “Behind the scenes, you’ve done so much to prepare for this, and we thank you so much.”

The event was moved outdoors and all attendees had to wear masks, but that didn’t put a damper on the excitement that comes with a new academic year. Fall 2021 classes begin Monday, Aug. 16, and many will be in person. Student support services have returned to campus as well, and students and instructors alike will find a host of improvements and upgrades, from an evolving curriculum to expanded wi-fi.

Read more about Merced College and its preparations for the new academic year.

And in an annual tradition, several awards were presented during the Convocation program:

  • Manager of the Year: Douglas Kain
  • Classified Professional of the Year, 2019-20: Reggie Burch
  • Classified Professional of the Year, 2020-21: Sonja Martinez
  • Faculty of the Year: Carl Estrella, Jennifer McBride, Karen Deeming
  • President’s Blue & Gold Award: Allied Health/Nursing Program

It’s not too late to sign up for the Fall 2021 semester. Click here to apply today!