Learning about our new students and ourselves
The start of each semester offers the opportunity to meet many new students, thanks to the numerous activities scheduled across campus. While I couldn’t attend every one, I did have several chances to meet and greet students at the events. I’m grateful to staff members throughout the Division of Student Affairs for coordinating and organizing many of these events.
University traditions are so important, and I continue to be very excited about the first-ever Chancellor’s Welcome and Dinner put on during the late afternoon of Aug. 31 on the Mitchell Hall lawn and Spaights Plaza. Vice Chancellor Michael Laliberte’s division put together a great overall event with two extremely nice aspects.
The first was a class photo, taken while suspended in a crane by intrepid UWM photographer Troye Fox.
The second was giving each freshman a specially minted Class of 2017 coin. As they walked from the Mitchell Lawn to Spaights Plaza, each new student was asked to set a goal for the next four years and toss the coin into the fountain east of the library as a demonstration of commitment to completing their studies. The coins were later collected and will be presented to those individuals who process through the graduation ceremonies in 2017.
I found our new students to be engaged throughout the event and also quite orderly afterward as they calmly made their way to dinner on Spaights Plaza.
The most distinguished group of students I met was on Sept. 3 when the new Military and Veteran Resource Center (MAVRC) hosted a welcome for individuals currently or formerly serving in the military, plus dependents eligible for benefits.
I’m especially proud of the work being done in the Student Affairs Division to improve services to those who have served our country, and support MAVRC’s commitment to ensuring that military and veteran students successfully transition into college and receive support in their academic degree progress.
When bad weather on Aug. 30 threatened the ice cream social for international students, Chapman Hall suddenly hosted about 400 individuals from all over the world. I got caught up in their excitement to be at UWM, and think I may have posed for pictures with all 400 by the time the afternoon was over.
My thanks to the Center for International Education for coordinating the event. Thanks also to men’s basketball head coach Rob Jeter for bringing his team by to meet with our international students. Considering the height difference between some of our students and student-athletes, I suspect that created a few interesting pictures, too.
One final thought on the various welcome back activities on campus, and that’s a thank you to the men’s soccer team and coach Kris Kelderman. By defeating Marquette and reclaiming for our campus the Milwaukee Cup, they gave a record crowd of more than 3,300 – many of them new freshmen – a chance to storm the field following the victory and share in the excitement of a win over a nationally ranked team.
Many faculty, staff and students have gotten us off to an excellent academic year, and I look forward to everyone maintaining that momentum in the months ahead.
Michael R. Lovell