Bear Beginnings: Campus provides welcome to new students

The annual Convocation is Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton’s opportunity to welcome all new students and parents to the university. This year, it will take place at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 25 in the Athletic Complex, followed by a celebration in Brookings Quad at 9 p.m.
The annual Convocation is Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton’s opportunity to welcome all new students and parents to the university. This year, it will take place at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 25 in the Athletic Complex, followed by a celebration in Brookings Quad at 9 p.m.

Members of the Washington University in St. Louis Class of 2015, new transfer and exchange students, and their parents and family members are arriving on campus this week. They will be welcomed with a variety of activities during Bear Beginnings: New Student Orientation, which begins Thursday, Aug. 25, and continues through Monday, Aug. 29.

More than 1,500 new students will be settling into their new homes and exploring the South 40 and the rest of the Danforth Campus, as well as attending faculty lectures, meeting with academic advisers, visiting open houses, watching the football team in action, exploring The Delmar Loop and connecting with other new students and members of the university community.

Bear Beginnings officially kicks off with “move-in” Thursday, Aug. 25, along with a transfer and exchange student welcome and residence hall floor meetings.

Convocation, Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton’s opportunity to welcome all new students and parents to the university, will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Athletic Complex. It is followed by a celebration in Brookings Quad at 9 p.m.

An array of departmental open houses is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 26, giving students an opportunity to meet with representatives from the faculty and staff to learn more about academic and university departments. The day’s closing events are the Club 40 Dance at 10 p.m. in the South 40 Clock Tower Plaza and a welcome social for transfer and exchange students at the Women’s Building.

Saturday, Aug. 27, will feature several “spotlight” lectures throughout the day by faculty members nominated by current students to talk about their areas of interest. All students will attend a meeting facilitated by the dean of their school or college. Also, a student-led panel discussion, “Perspectives on Academic Success: If I Knew Then What I Know Now,” will be at 10 a.m. in Rebstock Hall. The football team’s Red/Green scrimmage will be held at 4 p.m. at Francis Field.

Highlighting the evening will be two presentations for freshmen by upper-class students. At 8 p.m. in Edison Theatre, one half of the class will attend a program called “Choices,” which features different vignettes about college life. A discussion will follow led by resident advisors and student associates.

Also at 8 p.m. in Graham Chapel, the other half of the class will attend “The Date,” an interactive theatrical presentation that examines the issues of sexual assault and alcohol on college campuses. A discussion will follow, led by student leaders trained by staff from the Habif Health and Wellness Center. The presentations will be repeated Sunday, Aug. 28.

Saturday evening ends with “Sup All Night,” a popular Student Union orientation event at 10 p.m. in the Danforth University Center featuring food, dancing, video games and more.

Whitney Curtis

Small-group discussions involving students and faculty members highlight the annual First Year Reading Program. This year, groups will discuss The Cellist of Sarajevo.

Sunday, Aug. 28, consists of a full schedule of adviser meetings for incoming students as well as more faculty spotlight lectures. In the afternoon, transfer and exchange students will participate in small-group discussions of the First Year Reading Program book, The Cellist of Sarajevo. Students also will be able to “Explore the Loop” in nearby University City via a trolley, sponsored by the Congress of the South 40 and Bear Discounts. Many businesses in the area will have special discounts all day.

After another round of “Choices” in Edison and “The Date” in Graham Chapel at 8 p.m., the evening ends at 10:30 p.m. in the Athletic Complex with “WUFC: The Ultimate Floor Challenge.” Students will participate in several fun and interactive competitions as well as attend an intramural and sports club fair.

Monday, Aug. 29, features several meetings and socials for the individual schools. Student associates will present “Classes Are Tomorrow, Are You Ready?” at 7:45 p.m., and an outdoor movie will be shown at 9 p.m. in the South 40 Swamp.

Once again this year, a highlight of orientation will be the First Year Reading Program, which will be held Monday, Aug. 29. The annual program is designed to reach new students before they arrive on campus to help them focus on skills they will continue to cultivate throughout the year and their entire college careers. It also encourages interaction with members of the WUSTL faculty in informal discussions outside the classroom setting.

This year, the First Year Reading Program Steering Committee selected The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway, which is described as “a forceful, yet quietly spoken novel that puts us at the side of ordinary citizens in a city under siege as they venture out to buy bread or refill water jugs, uncertain whether a sniper or artillery shell will make their next step their last. In memory of 22 fellow citizens killed in a single attack, a cellist, in full sight of the attackers, sends up his music for 22 days to the hills where they hide, and to the heavens. The story is about war and despair, humanity and hope.”

The book was chosen by a steering group consisting of students, faculty and staff. In January 2010, a group of students participated in a discussion of the book led by Ewan Harrison, assistant dean in the College of Arts & Sciences, and strongly recommended its use for the First Year Reading Program. It is expected to stimulate interesting and engaging discussion between students, faculty and the greater campus community.

As part of orientation, students will attend small discussions on the book led by more than 100 faculty and administrators at various campus locations Monday, Aug. 29.

First year students also will encounter themes from The Cellist of Sarajevo during the semester in classes, discussions and on-campus programming and exhibits. The book’s author, Steven Galloway, will deliver an Assembly Series talk at 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 12, in College Hall in the South 40 House. It is open to all.

For more information on the book and the First Year Reading Program, visit

Also scheduled during the week are a variety of events designed especially for international, transfer and exchange students. A separate program for parents and family members runs from Thursday, Aug. 25, to Saturday, Aug. 27. More information about The First Year Center, Bear Beginnings and Parent & Family Orientation can be found at

Complete schedules can be found at