President Jonathan Koppell addressed the student body of Montclair State University for the first time on Sept. 1 as a part of the Red Hawk Day celebrations.
Almost a month after his inauguration as the ninth president of Montclair State, Koppell happily greeted an audience mostly made up of first-year students in Memorial Auditorium. He acknowledged the shared experience of being new to the school with the students.
“We’re going to learn together,” Koppell said.
Koppell’s approach to the student address was much more casual than his faculty address earlier in the day, in which he wore a mask and stayed stationary behind a podium.
For the students, he was much more active, moving back and forth across the stage. Koppell also decidedly removed his mask.
He addressed the controversy over Montclair State’s mask policy. The recently updated policy requires all individuals to wear masks in any indoor setting and crowded outdoor settings, despite most of the campus community being vaccinated.
Koppell justified the policy as a precaution to ensure the safety of the Montclair State community.
“The reason you’re doing that is because you’re a part of a community and being part of a community means taking care of each other,” Koppell said.
He stressed the importance of imagination, a common theme in his speech. Koppell asked the audience to imagine who they wanted to be in 20 years and what they wanted the world to look like.
“How do I make myself the person I need to be in order to make the world that I want to live in 20 years from now?” Koppell asked.
He made it a point to interact with the student audience by asking them questions and responding to their answers, even joking with them at times.
Koppell’s final message to students was a reminder of Montclair State’s motto: “Carpe Diem.”
“Wring out every experience out of Montclair State University that you possibly can,” Koppell said.