Convocation amidst COVID-19: Dr. Rob Wiley Speaks at Convocation 2020

September 21, 2020 Nikki Slater

Celebrating the chance to be back together on campus, Hardin-Simmons University held its annual Convocation, signaling the start of the 129th academic year.

This year, the scene looked a bit different as students, faculty, and staff filed into Behrens Auditorium donning their masks. Many streamed the ceremony online, making it easier for the gathering to allow for social distancing. But that didn’t diminish the heart of the tradition.

This year, alumnus Dr. Rob Wiley, former Trustee, local pediatrician, and Chief Medical Officer for Hendrick Medical Center was the featured speaker.

Dr. Wiley graduated Summa Sum Laude in 1987, receiving the significant Anderson Award. He went on to medical school at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio, graduating with honors before finishing his residency and returning to Abilene to launch his pediatric medical practice. Dr. Wiley previously served nine years on the Hardin-Simmons Board of Trustees and more recently has been instrumental in the local community’s fight against COVID-19.

Dr. Wiley invited the audience to imagine themselves in one of his exam rooms and to lean in for a conversation with the HSU family.

He recalled the many times’ new parents came into his office with their newborns seeking answers.  On the surface, these were questions that every new parent might have about feeding schedules and anticipated milestones.  However, under the surface, what they were really asking for was assurance to questions like, Am I worthy?  Am I capable?  Am I up to the task at hand?

And as a disciple of the Master Hebrew Pediatrician, Dr. Wiley said he always answered with “Shalom” or “Peace,” pointing them back to the author of all peace, Jesus Christ.

Dr. Wiley went on to correlate these feelings to how the audience might be feeling about surviving during the uncertainty of COVID-19. Mentioning a shortlist of possible unrealized experiences during the pandemic, he emphasized that what is missed most are the relationships, the personal interaction with those around us.

He challenged Christ-followers in the audience to be peacemakers as Christ instructed in Matthew 5:9, and quoted Dr. William Barkley who said, “Peacemakers are people who actively produce right relationships in every sphere of life.”

Ultimately, said Dr. Wiley, the answer to the deepest questions such as Am I Worthy?  Can I do this? Is “Yes”, you can without a doubt because we are sons and daughters of God.”