Marking the best attendance in years, the Lied Center was filled nearly to capacity for KU's 131st convocation.
Kansas University students should pursue their dreams, no matter how high the odds of attaining them, Chancellor Robert Hemenway said Wednesday night during KU's 131st convocation.
"Dream your dream no matter what the odds," he said. "You're inhabiting the same space, the same ground, the same university as a man who's running for president."
Native Kansan and KU alumnus Bob Dole is seeking the post.
"It happened to one KU student, why not another?" Hemenway said.
He spoke to a near-capacity crowd at the Lied Center, which holds 2,028.
It was the best turnout in years for the annual convocation ceremony, which is held to officially welcome new and returning students.
Hemenway said that while some KU traditions, such as the Rock Chalk chant, will remain for years to come, others, such as allowing only men in the KU marching band until 1972, have been rightfully discarded.
"Is opening convocation one of those traditions worth keeping? I think it is," he said. "It places you as new students -- indeed all of us -- in the context of history."
Hemenway named several business and political leaders who also have attended convocations at KU.
"KU can help you achieve these kinds of dreams."
The university, he said, "offers a free marketplace of ideas. You need to compete in that marketplace to find your best place in the world."
University officials said Wednesday night's relatively high attendance resulted from better promotion of the event.
Last year, about 1,000 people attended and about 900 were present in 1994.
Attendance hit an all-time low in 1992, when only 150 people showed up.
"We did a lot better job of getting the word out," said Jeff Weinberg, assistant to the chancellor.
Faculty convocation will be held at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 4 in the Kansas Union Ballroom.