When I speak to incoming students, I try to acknowledge that most of them are at least a little bit apprehensive. I know I was when I started college some 37 years ago. I wish I had started school with a program like On Iowa!, our new three-day program for incoming students.
On Iowa! is just one part of our efforts to build a first-year experience that lays the foundation for our students’ success. Over the past few years, we’ve introduced the Iowa Challenge, a clear statement of our expectations for students; Pick One, an effort to get students involved early; Convocation, an academic ceremony to start our students’ careers at Iowa; and, now, On Iowa! to tie them all together.
The class of 2015 probably had the best move-in experience ever. Each student was assigned a four-hour time block for arrival. Hundreds of volunteers helped, and each car was more or less swarmed as it arrived. Equipped with snappy new black and gold carts, volunteers moved students’ possessions to their rooms, sometimes before the student got completely checked in. I worked with a team of undergraduates who typified our students’ positive attitudes and can-do approach: because the elevators were the choke point in the process, my team took to carrying empty carts back down the stairs! Class of 2015 move-in video.
On Friday, new students met in small groups led by current students. The groups converged on Kinnick Stadium for dinner, then spent some time on the field doing icebreakers and team-building exercises. They formed a gigantic block “I” on the field, then moved into the stands to learn Hawkeye cheers and traditions. See video. They then heard from Hawkeye icon former wrestling coach Dan Gable, who exhorted them to make the class of 2015 the most successful class ever. The evening ended with fireworks orchestrated to the “Iowa Fight Song.”
Students spent Saturday in their small groups learning how to excel in their classrooms, make sound choices, and engage fully in campus life. Along with Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education Beth Ingram, I got to ride around in a golf cart and ask students trivia questions about The University of Iowa. Winners walked away with prizes ranging from coupons to T-shirts. Did you know that Amos Dean was the first president of The University of Iowa? Neither did the students, but Beth and I always managed to find a question they did know the answer to.
On Sunday, students participated in Convocation. After a formal academic procession, with faculty and staff in their academic regalia, students heard a series of short speeches. Provost Barry Butler asked them to open the sealed envelopes they had in their hands. Inside each envelope, they found a gold tassel with the year “2015” on it. He asked that they hang it in a visible place to remind that they came to Iowa to excel, and to keep their goal in front of them.
All in all, it was a wonderful experience, and one that I believe will start our newest Hawkeyes off on the right foot. And next year, it will be even better.
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Published by University Communication and Marketing. ©The University of Iowa 2011. All rights reserved.