Brad. D. Smith Kicks Off the 2022–2023 Academic Year at Marshall University

Brad D Smith welcomes students back to campus for the start of the fall semester

Every year, Marshall University receives freshman students during its Week of Welcome (WoW). The purpose of the program is to give new students the opportunity to acclimate to the campus, college life and all things Marshall before the upperclassmen arrive. It is an immersive experience designed to educate students on important available resources, and help them become familiar with the school’s academic expectations and traditions.

This year, Brad D. Smith spoke during his first Week of Welcome as the university’s president. Read on for a recap of Brad’s address to the students.

Brad Shares His Story as a Marshall Alumnus

Brad began his remarks by welcoming each student, recognizing their new status as a part of the Marshall University legacy. He spoke to the triumphs of his student audience, crediting them for having completed high school during a pandemic.

Brad then went on to speak to the impact that Marshall University has had on his life.

“Like many of you, my brothers and I were the first in our family to have the opportunity to attend college. It changed the course of our lives. It changed our family’s life in ways we could have never imagined,” he said.

A main theme in Brad’s remarks was gratitude.

“Marshall University and this community invested in me, and their guidance plotted a course for a lifetime of achievement and excitement that I could have never imagined. I will be forever indebted.”

Brad then explained to students his motivation for leaving corporate America for higher education.

“I’ve now returned to the institution to serve as the first alumnus to be the president of Marshall, and I did this for one reason: to invest in you, and to to pay it forward.”

A Look to the Future

The next segment of Brad’s remarks focused on the experience students could expect and cultivate while at Marshall. He promised them that the next four years would be some of the most exciting of their lives and, “perhaps,” he said, “the most impactful.” He went on to discuss how the faculty and staff look forward to helping the students develop their intellect while also nurturing the importance and impact of service to the community.

“I believe education is the great equalizer. It levels the playing field of opportunity and transforms problems into possibilities and dreams into reality,” he said.

Aside from delivering an education, Brad also explained that Marshall builds character.

“We’re a community that is respectful of others. We’re duty bound to support the common good. We’re supportive of diversity and we’re prepared to correct threats that are posed by injustice.”

He spoke to the Marshall culture and, specifically, the Marshall creed, which guides the university’s decisions. Brad then encouraged each student, as Marshall’s newest ambassadors, to read the creed.

He promised the students that the faculty and staff would help them to be successful, so that they would leave Marshall University educated and dedicated to being lifelong learners.

Brad then went on to quote Mark Twain, saying: “The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

He told the freshman students, “These next years attending Marshall are your opportunity to discover your why.”

He wrapped up the first portion of his remarks by saying “Welcome to Herd Nation and congratulations,” before handing the microphone over to Bruce Felder, Marshall’s Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer.

Wrapping up the Convocation Program

Brad returned to the microphone at the end of the program to conclude the afternoon’s event. At this time, he challenged all students, telling them that when they see him on campus they should stop him and take a picture with him.

He then provided some final inspiration to the class: “I want you to seize this moment…You only have one shot at a first semester.”

He continued: “We have your back…Don’t ever be afraid to ask for assistance. That’s why we say ‘We are marshall. We are in this together.’ If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

He then spoke about the class coin, unique to the class of 2026. He encouraged students to think to the future, to graduation day. He emphasized that the journey had now officially begun.

“Your time has come,” he said. “I could not be more proud to serve the class of 2026 as my first year as President of Marshall University. As a son of Marshall, I’ve got your back. Go herd.”

Watch Brad’s Welcome Speech