PITTSBURG — Hundreds of members of Pittsburg State University’s faculty, staff and administration gathered Thursday for PSU’s convocation ceremony to kick off the school year at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts.

The event featured acknowledgment of new employees who have recently joined PSU as well as recognition of those who have served the university for years and in some cases multiple decades.

PSU President Steve Scott gave an update on what has been going on at the university during the convocation, and also conducted an on-stage interview with Howard Smith, PSU’s new provost and vice president for academic affairs.

In his opening remarks prior to interviewing Smith, Scott highlighted ways the university is working to fulfill its mission statement “to provide transformational experiences for its students and the community.”

Scott highlighted four areas that PSU focuses on to accomplish that mission.

“This place is about academic excellence, this place is about student success,” Scott said, “and it’s about partnerships — and we’re terrific with partnerships — and it’s a campus of innovation. “Those are the four areas that we focus on to create these transformational experiences, and I think it’s working.”

Smith also discussed PSU’s mission while speaking about his new role as provost and vice president for academic affairs in his interview with Scott.

“What we do here, it’s not about us,” Smith said. “What we do is aimed at making the students’ experience here be successful, helping them get to where they want to be, and we do that because we have expertise in certain areas, we have skills in certain areas, and it takes all of us to do that. And it’s got to be about our students and their learning.”

Other speakers at the convocation included Faculty Senate President Dr. Kevin Bracker, Unclassified Professional Senate President Brad Stefanoni, and University Support Staff President Terry Pierce.

The event also featured a surprise performance by Samantha Winzer, who as an elementary school student several years ago told Scott that she hoped to perform on stage at the Bicknell Center someday. Winzer, who is now starting her freshman year of high school, gave a piano performance for the audience on stage at the convocation Thursday.