“Today you are being offered an opportunity. You are beginning something that you can seize. This is a special moment because what Lafayette will offer you beginning now is a platform for you to build your own lives. To look to the future and begin to invent a life for yourself that is in your dreams,” said President Daniel H. Weiss to the 629 members of the Class of 2016.
The new students, who gathered in Fisher Stadium, were officially welcomed to the College community by Weiss and Student Government president Caroline Lang ’13 during Convocation ceremonies Thursday opening the 181st academic year. Classes for both new and returning students begin Monday, Aug. 27.
“Each of you has a specific reason for choosing Lafayette. Maybe that reason is the stellar academic reputation or the beautiful campus,” said Lang. “For me it was the community and the intimacy of the school. I love that I cannot walk around on campus without seeing someone I know. I love that my professors always know me by name. Lafayette will not nurture and educate the Class of 2016 as a mass of nameless students. They will nurture you individually. You will not get lost in the crowd here if you just unplug and engage.”
Weiss also laid out four jobs he would like the students to take on as they start their college careers: to begin thinking like college students, to build relationships, to take educational adventures, and to use their new freedom wisely.
“Take classes in areas that interest you but that you may not have lots of experience in or even that you might think would be intimidating,” said Weiss. “Nothing is more rewarding or life-enhancing than to take that step and find out that it is really powerfully good. If you ask any person who has been through college and established a career, how they got where they are. Many of them will tell you it is because they took a class in college with someone that changed their lives in ways they could not anticipate.”
The College’s four-day orientation program is designed to focus on students’ intellectual and personal development and to help ease the transition to college life. The theme of orientation, and other curricular and co-curricular activities throughout the year, is “Buying/Power.” Students are introduced to the vibrancy of intellectual life at Lafayette by exploring globalization, outsourcing, planned obsolescence, and economic instability in an increasingly unsettled world. The primary summer reading assignment was Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture by Ellen Ruppel Shell.
Also speaking at Convocation were Alexandra Hendrickson, director of religious life and College chaplain; Wendy Hill, provost and dean of the faculty; Gregory MacDonald, dean of admissions and financial aid; Easton Mayor Sal Panto; and Hannah Stewart-Gambino, dean of the College. David Reif ’68, president of the Alumni Association, presented the Class of 2016 flag to Ani Acopian ’16 and Ryan Burke ’16.