Ursinus College welcomes its first-year class of 440 students, who will move into designated freshman residence halls on Thursday (Aug. 25). The Class of 2015 will be the first class fully under the presidency of Dr. Bobby Fong, who was formerly president of Butler University in Indiana. Dr. Fong, who took office at Ursinus July 1, returns to his roots at an undergraduate residential liberal arts school. He had been on the faculty at schools such as Berea, Hope and Hamilton College, where he had also been Dean.
Dr. Fong will launch the academic year for faculty and staff Tuesday with a special State of the College address, which will be posted on the Ursinus web site that afternoon. The address wil kick off Welcome Week.
New and returning students will find a freshly installed artificial grass football field with lights, and a newly resurfaced track. The first night game ever played at Ursinus College is scheduled for Sept. 3 against Albright College at 7 p.m. The community is welcome to attend.
Between practices the football team will do the heavy lifting for incoming freshmen students and their parents, in what has become an annual service day for team members. “Our kids really understand what it means to be a part of a community,” says Coach Peter Gallagher. “They also understand if you want to be supported you need to give support yourself.”
Students mark the start of academic life Friday (Aug. 25) with the annual Convocation, a ceremony which signals the official start of the academic year and introduces them to some college history and rituals. They follow Convocation with their first class, the Common Intellectual Experience (CIE), a required first-year course which uses common texts to explore, examine and discuss human existence. All first-year students have read The Epic of Gilgamesh and an excerpt from Plato’s The Republic over the summer. This year the reading will be enhanced by a special CIE reception at the Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art for the exhibition: “Make a statue of my friend:” Presenting Enkidu, Re-presenting the Epic of Gilgamesh, Sculpture by Joe Mooney.
The Ursinus move-in will be a sustainable one, as the Ursinus Sustainability Program ensures that styrofoam and cardboard packing and other trash gets recycled. Cardboard is taken to a composting site and styrofoam is sent to a facility where it is made into archery bales.
As part of their orientation, the new class goes to Philadelphia Saturday, with the option to volunteer at Urban Tree Connection to revitalize and restore community gardens.
Forty-eight percent of the Class of 2015 are from states other than Pennsylvania. Forty-five percent are in the top 10 percent of their high school classes.
In this class are 24 National Honor Society officers and 143 NHS members, 25 class officers, four valedictorians, some 70 student government officers and representatives, a National Merit Finalist, six Eagle Scouts, 110 varsity athletic captains and 45 band members. The class of 2015 boasts nine competitive chess players, a nationally ranked tuba player, two opera singers, an AJROTC drill commander, six published writers, two figure skaters, two robotics builders, two National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine members two scuba divers, a theater director and choreographer and a licensed pilot. — W.G.