Each college comes with its own rites and traditions, and UNC Asheville introduced a few of its own to the arriving class of 2015, on Friday, August 19.
It all started at move-in for the freshman class of approximately 550 students. With many parents in tow, the new group of Bulldogs began checking into their residence halls at 9 a.m. They were greeted by dozens of Resident Assistants, faculty, and staff volunteers who helped them find their new rooms as well as assisted in moving their clothes, computers, and personal belongings. The volunteer move-in program is a long-standing UNC Asheville tradition aimed at making incoming freshmen feel welcome.
Once settled in, the students took part in the tradition of gathering at the statue of the school’s mascot, Rocky, and rubbing his head before walking to the 4 p.m. Convocation ceremony. For years, every incoming class celebrated their induction and received their class pins on the lawn at the campus’ Quadrangle. This year however, Convocation moved to its new location at Kimmel Arena, where it also served as the first major event ever held in the 3,800-seat facility.
Dr. Sophie Mills, chair of the Classics Department and recipient of the 2011 Award for Teaching Excellence from the University of North Carolina’s Board of Governors, delivered the keynote speech, titled "Finding Your Ithaca." Mills offered students inspiration from a poem about Odysseus' travels; though Odysseus struggled to return home to Ithaca, his journey was at least as important as its ending, which left him a wiser human being. “This paradigm is what I wish for all the freshmen -- that of course they will need to graduate and get jobs eventually,” says Mills. “But all the new things they acquire in the next four years are maybe even more important than that.”
After Friday’s Convocation ceremony, new students were invited to attend Rockypalooza, a night of activities, games, prizes and food, which encouraged new classmates to get acquainted with each other and their new university. Campus-wide RendezBlue orientation events were set to continue throughout the weekend.
On Saturday, August 20, returning students began moving back to campus. For them, there are a few new features of note around the campus:
Facilities: The Sherrill Center is open, and it offers students access to an impressive new workout facility – complete with free weights, iPod-compatible cycles and treadmills, and other exercise equipment. Also, the renovation of Governors Village was set for completion just a few days after school starts. In the meantime, the students from those residence halls will be housed off-campus for a few days while work is finished.
Academics: The academic department of Health and Wellness has moved to its new offices and classrooms in the Sherrill Center, where new smart-classroom technology and many different labs will become part of the regular curriculum for the university’s fastest-growing major. Also, the Asian Studies major has added Chinese language and culture classes to its curriculum. In addition, the first class of graduate students at the satellite program of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Eshelman School of Pharamacy began their studies on the UNC Asheville campus.
Dining: The food just keeps getting better around campus. There’s a new sushi vendor in Highsmith University Union. The main dining hall has expanded its menu cycle to six weeks to offer more variety, and now you can find Counter Culture coffee and Buchi brand kombucha at the Ramsey Library Café. Also, a new Wellness Café inside the Sherrill Center offers healthy eats like build-your-own yogurt parfaits and oatmeal in the mornings, then noodle bowls, rice bowls, and sandwiches are offered for lunch and dinner. And students will be able to get their morning Starbucks fix at the Wellness Café, too.
Because as Odysseus once said, “It doesn’t hurt to have a cup of coffee before you set out to find Ithaca.” Okay, maybe he didn’t say that, but perhaps the class of 2015 will create a few new traditions of their own during the journey.