"You 775 freshman are among the most talented to walk through the doors at Xavier University," he said. "This is a great day at Xavier University because you came here and made it one."
Graham began by sharing how he ascended the ranks from history professor to University president. "What I discovered is that there are more good people at Xavier than there is time to get to know them," he said.
"I welcome you to a life that's going to be different because of what you experience here. You will meet people here who are strangers to you who will support you in the years to come."
He also explained that all Jesuit schools share certain characteristics, including an emphasis on critical thinking, service and a broad-based liberal arts core curriculum. He said that students study a core curriculum that emphasizes logic, ethical expression, critical thinking and values while emphasizing the whole person and giving to others. He told them of the intellectual, moral and spiritual formation they are about to begin, and he told them how they're called to be scholars, saints and citizen-servants.
In doing so, he said, they'll learn about the Society of Jesus, founder St. Ignatius Loyola and his educational theories that incorporate classical learning with education for the modern world.
He also described the major parts of a Jesuit education: cura personalis, or care of the whole person; the magis, or "more" that challenges us to be greater; the service of faith and promotion of justice; finding God in all things; and being men and women for others.
Graham's talk was part of a community celebration that began with a rendition of the Appalachian traditional, "Down to the River to Pray," by members of Xavier's concert choir. This was followed by scripture readings and a dramatization of "The Sower and the Seed," by J.W. Rickert.