Each fall, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of CNU gather in the Ferguson Center for the Community of Scholars Convocation to formally welcome new students to the University, to underscore the seriousness of shared academic purpose and to emphasize the importance Christopher Newport places on living in a community of honor.

Every incoming freshman takes a solemn oath to live honorably and signs the honor code. Upon doing so, each is given a penny for luck and as a symbol of their commitment in the hope that he or she will keep it over the next four years, and then toss it into the Geese Fountain during the procession to the Great Lawn at commencement.

Begun in 2001, this tradition has been repeated over the years by countless Captains. Each penny is accompanied by a dedication written by the late CNU Vice Provost and English Professor, Dr. Tracey Schwarze:

This penny is but a small tribute to the spirit of honor of all those who learn and lead here.

To give your word and keep it as a person of integrity;
To treasure the life of the mind and the spirit of intellectual inquiry;
To value richness of character over richness of purse;
To give, because to you, much has been given;
To seek important work — and to do it with all your heart
Keep this faith as you become a citizen of CNU, of the nation and the world

And one day
As you remember

The grandeur of the Ferguson Center,
The beauty of the Great Lawn,
The tranquility of the James, and
The friends and mentors of your youth,

You will know that you have lived a life of honor and significance ...

Senior Courtney Colligan has kept her penny in a safe place during her four years on campus, but is now ready to part with it, albeit with mixed emotions. “I feel as though I am just starting to get my grounding here, even though I know I've had a strong foundation since my first months at CNU,” she says. “The penny signifies the work I have put in at CNU, the hours spent studying, writing, performing and thriving in college. I am not a completely different person than I was freshman year, I'm just a better version of myself. I am ready to explore the next stage in my life, ready to make an impact and let the wind take me.”

She’ll be joined by nearly 1,000 of her fellow Captains.

After commencement the pennies are collected from the fountain and placed in the graduating class account for future use.