Oregon State University’s Gill Coliseum was packed Tuesday with families, OSU faculty and staff, members of the university’s Greek system and — most importantly — new students attending the university’s 15th annual assembly for new students.

The hour-long ceremony began when the students gathered in the Memorial Union Quad and walked south together along 26th Street to Gill, which is the route that graduates take before commencement ceremonies each June. The procession and convocation serves as the unofficial welcome to the university for new students.

A highlight of the ceremony was a description of the incoming class by vice provost for student affairs Larry Roper, showing that OSU’s record number of new students is more diverse than ever. Of the 6,290 new students, 22 percent identify as people of color. That’s up from 20 percent of the 5,930 new students in fall 2010.

The new class represents 46 U.S. states, 50 countries and all 36 Oregon counties. The youngest new student is 15; the oldest is 64.

They’re a bright bunch. In all, 140 new students were valedictorians of their high schools, and 14 had a perfect score on the math portion while 17 were flawless on the verbal portion of the Scholastic Aptitude Test, a major national college admissions test.

Of the total of new students, 3,747 are freshmen, 1,690 are transfer students and 853 are graduate students.

However, the enrollment numbers are not final. The Oregon University System identifies official enrollment during the fourth week of fall term, to account for students who’ve enrolled late and for those who leave school.

The convocation included speeches by Associated Students of OSU President Milikaleakona Hopoi, Memorial Union President Ashley Barnes and OSU President Ed Ray.

Philosophy professor Joseph Orosco gave the keynote address, in which he asked new students to challenge themselves, in and out of the classroom. He reflected on how his own path to teaching and studying political philosophy stemmed from discussions he had with his fellow students as an undergrad at Portland’s Reed College.

“Realize that the person you’ll be in 10, 15 or 20 years will most likely develop out of the person you become here,” Orosco said.

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