Nearly 400 first-year students and their parents will arrive at Austin College Friday in preparation for the opening of the 171st year of the College next week. New student and transfer orientation will continue over the next several days, and returning students will make their way to campus next Tuesday and Wednesday. Classes begin Thursday, August 29.
President Steven P. O’Day and his wife, Cece, will be among the campus community leaders awaiting new students and families as they arrive for residence hall move-in and a weekend of orientation activities. Several students, faculty, and staff, plus a number of area alumni, will also lend a welcoming hand as families unload packed vehicles and try to determine how all the belongings can fit into the assigned residence hall rooms.
Friday’s agenda also will include necessary paperwork and signatures, ID cards, and the gathering of information—still leaving time to put rooms in order and perhaps visit area retailers to stock up on snacks, toiletries, and other last-minute items.
The new students join athletes who have been on campus nearly a week for fall camps in football, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s water polo, volleyball, and cross country. A number of student organization leaders and student residence life staff arrived early to prepare for the year ahead.
The New Student Conference schedule will begin in earnest Saturday morning, with an official Welcome session, including greetings and guidance from President O’Day, student body president Hunter Williams, and other campus administrators. Residence hall meetings, freshman seminar gatherings with classmates and faculty, various Student Life orientation sessions, and a time for student socializing round out the day.
Parents end their activities on campus just after noon on Sunday and leave the new students to settle in on their own. Freshmen and transfer students will continue their preparation for the beginning of classes, with sessions on Academic Integrity, guidance on successful academic progress, and residence hall adjustments from returning students.
A faculty group will provide a number of additional offerings to help students become more acclimated to the campus and the programs available to them. A growing number of first-generation college students sometimes find the transition to college life more challenging and the additional sessions allow them in particular, as well as their classmates, a closer look at college life before classes get underway.
The “First We Serve” volunteer project has become a tradition for Austin College new students over the past several years. The students have come together to assemble thousands of nutritious food packets for shipment to those in need through the nonprofit Kids Against Hunger.
Returning students will move into campus housing Tuesday and Wednesday.
The academic year officially will get underway with the traditional Opening of School Convocation in Sid Richardson Center of the Robert T. Mason Athletic/Recreation Complex on Wednesday, August 28, at 7 p.m. The event begins with the entrance of the new students, then the procession of rising seniors in caps and gowns for the first time, and the College faculty in full academic regalia. Dr. David Baker, professor of physics, serves as College marshal and leads the procession carrying the official College mace.
Dr. Elizabeth Gill, vice president for Academic Affairs and dean of the faculty, will present the opening address, “Building a Better World: One Choice at a Time.” The convocation also will include performances by the A Cappella Choir, led by choral director Dr. Wayne Crannell; the official Investiture of the Class of 2023 and presentation of the class banner to new students; students’ presentation of the class Academic Integrity book to President O’Day; and prayers for the new academic year.
Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives, Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with 46 percent of students identifying as persons of color. The residential student body of approximately 1,300 students and more than 100 expert faculty members allow a 13:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. This year, the campus recognizes 100 years of co-education and has had several opportunities to recognize the history of women and accomplishments of current alumnae. Austin College is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. Founded in 1849, the College is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.