This is an archived article. For the latest news, go to the Advance Homepage
For more archives, go to the Advance Archive/Search Page.
Welcome to freshmen to focus
on academics, set tone for year
April 20, 1998

Residence halls and most campus business offices will open a day early for the 1998-99 academic year, welcoming freshmen and other first-time students and their parents to Storrs August 29, a day ahead of the crowds of upperclassmen that may prove daunting to new students.

The early opening ceremonies, which will include a formal convocation ceremony for the newcomers, their families and friends, represent another step in UConn's determination to strengthen the academic climate of the campus. The new-students-only day will allow freshmen, transfers and branchfers to move into their residence halls - with help from the Husky Haulers - familiarize themselves with the Storrs campus, take care of registration or financial aid needs, buy textbooks, take a tour of campus or visit a museum - all free from the more than 10,000 upperclassmen that descend on campus every fall.

The day of activities solely for the new students will be followed by a day devoted primarily to scholarly activities, setting the stage for the 1998-99 academic year, and then by several days to relax and prepare for the rigors ahead. The latter period will include the annual all-campus picnic, scheduled for Sept. 1. Classes begin Wednesday, September 2.

"This is really a wonderful idea. We're doing something here that cannot be done at many universities, something we can do because of our manageable size and because so many students live on campus," says Susan Steele, vice provost for undergraduate education and instruction. "This will help us create the kind of academic community we want to foster here."

Faculty and staff involved in the effort say the new plan will require several hundred volunteers, starting with the second appearance of the Husky Haulers - faculty and staff willing to welcome parents and students to campus August 29-30, and give them a hand moving into the residence halls. Other volunteers will be needed to facilitate the dozens of small reading groups that will form in the afternoon of August 30 to discuss a book all freshmen will be asked to read during the summer. Deans and department heads also are being asked to pitch in Sunday morning, so new and returning students, or their family and friends, can visit the schools and officials where they are enrolled.

"We are trying to set the right tone, especially with the first-year students, that they are about to embark upon a great academic experience," says M. Kevin Fahey, chair of the WOW committee.

Considering the plans for the opening that are falling into place, the students, particularly students new to Storrs, should be impressed. After arriving on campus early - Husky Hauler volunteers are being asked to arrive by 9 a.m. August 29 - students will move into their rooms and then have several hours to visit campus attractions, take care of business, or take a tour. Then, at 2:30 p.m., the formal convocation ceremony,.

featuring President Philip Austin, Chancellor Mark Emmert, and several others, will convene in the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion, where the students will receive their charge for the year, and a few words of advice.

Following the convocation, a new student picnic will be held, complete with a huge grinder spelling out the year 2002 - ostensibly the students' graduation year, before parents head home and students meet their residence hall advisors and housemates, and convene at Jorgensen Auditorium for entertainment and an ice cream social.

On Sunday, deans, department heads and other faculty will welcome students to their schools and colleges, starting at 10 a.m., as returning students move in. Husky Haulers also will start at 10 a.m. Reading group meetings will be held from 1-2 p.m. and, hopefully, the selected book's author will give a reading and talk at Jorgensen at 2:30 p.m. The book has not been chosen.

On Monday and Tuesday, events will have a decidedly lighter tone, with the annual Back to Campus Festival opening at noon Monday, complete with rides, games, and other events, and the annual Husky WOW All-Campus Picnic will be held from 11:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. Tuesday, September 1, on the Student Union Mall.

Faculty and staff who would like to help facilitate a reading group should call Jennifer Hethcote or Amy deFlumere at (860) 486-3378; anyone willing to work as a Husky Hauler, whether to actually haul, to guard furniture while students park their cars, or just to meet, greet, and help direct new students and their parents should call Kim Chambers at (860) 486-2150. Any department or organization wishing to sponsor a Husky WOW event should contact Fahey at (860) 486-3425.

Richard Veilleux