Actor Sean Astin addresses students and faculty at Convocation

MOSCOW, ID - The University of Idaho Vandals are not only celebrating 125 years, but also new beginnings.

The university welcomes its new students with a celebrity speaker and broke ground on a new building.

Your college experience is one of the most memorable times in your life. Thousands of Vandals, new and old, poured into the Kibbie Dome early Friday morning for the 2014 University of Idaho's Convocation. The ceremony is meant to mirror commencement. One celebrates the students' entrance into the college, the other their completion.

"I'm confident that each student here can succeed, if you simply plan for success and do your best," said University President Chuck Staben.

Several members of the university spoke and gave college survival advice.

"If you must miss a period, don't ask us, did I miss anything?" said Associate Professor Marty Ytreberg. "Or even worse, did I miss anything important?"

Actor, director and producer Sean Astin also spoke. He used his characters from "the Goonies," "Rudy," and "the Lord of the Rings Trilogy" to inspire the students.

"He refused to accept the limitations that other people put on him and his ambitions exceeded anyone's wildest expectations," said Astin.

Astin also says, although there's a lot going on in our world right now, college students need to focus on college.

"This is your time," said Astin. "You need to really buckle down and realize that your work, your life, your energy, are worthy of investing your concentration in and you don't have to be totally othered in your awareness."

Following Convocation, the university broke ground on the new integrated research and innovation center.

"It's been almost a decade from what I understand, since we build a new building on campus," said Staben.

The IRIC building will be 69,000 square feet, state-of-the-art research facility and cost $49-million.

The center will feature walls made of whiteboards, laboratories with windows and shared offices.

"It is really to bring people together," said Staben. "To force interactions that we have not had before, to bring the disciples together and to blur those boundaries so they talk to each other, they learn from each other, they get new ideas and they address the big problems."

The building should be finished in about two years.

Last year the University's research expenditures totaled $95-million.

The hope is that once the IRIC is in use, that number will grow exponentially.