Pictured: Dr. Linda Villarreal

Event is at 1 p.m. Thursday in Jones Auditorium

Texas A&M University-Kingsville will host Freshman Convocation at 1 p.m. Thursday in Jones Auditorium to welcome new students to the campus and to college life.

"The purpose of convocation is to welcome new students to the university and while doing so, to introduce important traditions to the newest members of the campus community," said Dr. Dann Brown, dean of University College and chair of the convocation committee. "This year's convocation committee intends to accomplish part of this task by providing new students with the opportunity to observe and better understand the importance of traditions associated with higher education."

This year's keynote speaker is Dr. Linda Villarreal, executive director of the Education Service Center, Region 2 in Corpus Christi. She earned bachelor's of science, master's of science and doctoral degrees from Texas A&I University/A&M-Kingsville.

An educator for 28 years, Villarreal has worked as a teacher, principal and superintendent in South Texas schools. As a principal and superintendent, Villarreal worked with her staff to create an innovative educational environment for children that earned her staff and district state awards for outstanding student achievement.

Brown said many universities are integrating programs like Freshman Convocation into their first-year experience program. "Freshman Convocation provides a formal welcome to new students that introduces important traditions and establishes a ceremonial separation from the high school environment. It provides our university with an opportunity to introduce campus traditions to new students and demonstrates our commitment to student success at A&M-Kingsville.

"Freshman Convocation is linked to our student's eventual graduation from A&M-Kingsville," Brown said. "This message, that the goal of obtaining a college degree is attainable on our welcoming campus, is conveyed symbolically as faculty, staff, students, family and guests participate in convocation."

Following the presentation of the colors by the Javelina Battalion of the ROTC, Crystal Lopez, vice president of the Student Government Association, will lead the audience in the Pledge of the Allegiance.

In addition to Villarreal, this year's speakers include Dr. Kay Clayton, provost and vice president for academic affairs. Dr. Rumaldo Z. Juarez, university president, will officially welcome the freshman class of 2007 on behalf of the university community.

All students are invited to attend the convocation, and attendance is required for freshmen enrolled for the first time in the fall semester. Parents and other family members also are invited.

The convocation will be followed by a reception. For more information call 361-593-3290 or visit the convocation blog at http://amkfreshmanconvocation.blogspot.com/.