New Friends and Old Traditions Greet UNC Asheville’s Class of 2017
(August 16, 2013)
UNC Asheville received its new students on Friday morning with open arms – the arms of returning students, faculty and staff who formed a large squad of movers to help unload cars and transport student belongings to their residence halls. By lunchtime, the Class of 2017 – some 600 students strong and the university’s largest in four years – had moved in.
But that was just the beginning of a day of transition, not just to college, but as Student Government President Leigh Whittaker put it, “to the grown-up table.” Whittaker spoke to the incoming freshmen at the afternoon Convocation ceremony, recalling her own first-day-on-campus excitement. “It meant that I could finally work for a degree in something I’m passionate about,” she said. “It meant I could finally have a taste of just what everyone was talking about when they say college is so awesome.”
The Convocation ceremony, featuring faculty in regalia and the singing of the Alma Mater, is the university’s traditional way of giving students a taste of what lies ahead and provides parents the opportunity to see the first moments of their student’s college career.
UNC Asheville Chancellor Anne Ponder told the freshmen, “It is at this very moment that you begin making your own decisions, decisions that will not only affect the present moment but the future … Even though we are all here to help, we will also push you and challenge your assumptions, your way of thinking, all so you will be able to make the connections necessary to achieve a life you don’t at this moment even know is possible.”
The constancy of change and the value of a liberal arts education in preparing students to meet unforeseen challenges, was also the theme of Linda Cornett’s keynote talk at Convocation. Cornett, chair and associate professor of political science and the winner of the 2013 Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching, spoke of how the sudden end of the Cold War political order had changed everything in her chosen field of study. “If anything, the pace and depth of changes are only accelerating,” said Cornett. Recalling the proverb often attributed to the ancient Chinese, Cornett told the students, “You will live in interesting times … Whatever you do, you must be prepared to be engaged in community life – locally, nationally and internationally … Equip yourself well.”
“By this time of the day and of the ceremony, you have received much advice,” noted Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Bill Haggard near the close of Convocation. He then offered a little of his own, urging students to remember the importance of face-to-face healthy and supportive relationships valued at UNC Asheville. He then invited students to begin by joining in a picnic on the Quad followed by Rockypalooza – an fun-filled evening of games, prizes, and activities, named in honor of the university mascot, Rocky.
For a look at the story of Move-In Day as told through social media, visit UNC Asheville's Storify page.