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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Students file into their new role as Wildcats

Valentina+Martinelli%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0ATy+Rouzan%2C+Jake+Gveivenkamp%2C+Kyndra+Flowers%2C+Justin+Anderson%2C+Gaby+Rincon
Valentina Martinelli/ Arizona Daily Wildcat Ty Rouzan, Jake Gveivenkamp, Kyndra Flowers, Justin Anderson, Gaby Rincon

While it won’t be on the final, new students are strongly encouraged to go to the freshman convocation each year.

New Wildcats piled into McKale Center on Sunday night for this year’s Freshman Convocation.

Event organizers estimated 4,000 people attended the event. Naran Loudhia, an attendee, said he came to the UA because he liked the campus and the energy. “Everyone is so friendly here,” Loudhia said.

Loudhia said he was nervous and excited for school to start. While none of his friends from Sacramento, Calif., are attending the UA, he said he has already met a few people at his dorm, Arbol de la Vida Residence Hall. At the start of the night he only knew a few verses of the school’s fight song, but with the help of Wilbur, Wilma, the cheer team and pep band students learned about UA pride and traditions.

Before the welcome speeches began there was an informational video explaining some traditions of the UA, such as the origin of the school athletic motto, “Bear down,” and how students used to haze freshmen in the 1950s ­— they were made to wear beanies.

Students were greeted by the UA’s new interim President Eugene Sander and officially welcomed to the university. He gave the students four pieces of advice: show up, get a routine, avoid dumb decisions and get involved.

“We’re a large institution and can sometimes be impersonal, so you have to get involved,” Sander said.

Another new member to the UA family, Shane Burgess, the new dean for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, was there to welcome students to his college, along with the deans of each department and college.

Steve Goldschmid, dean of the College of Medicine, suggested students enjoy their time at the UA because it goes by fast.

Melissa Vito, vice president of Student Affairs, broke down the numbers for the students: There are about 7,400 in the freshmen class, with 4,800 from Arizona and the largest number of non-resident students in the school’s history, according to Vito. She said she has done a lot of recruiting on the East Coast, so much so that she calls New York “UA East.” The UA is also welcoming the largest number of international students in its history, 400 students representing 60 different countries, said Vito. She added there were 1,360 transfer students, and 1,300 in the Honors College.

In addition to the heads of the academic arena, athletic director Greg Byrne was also present. He shared some Wildcat wisdom and did his best to get students pumped for UA athletics and their first year in Tucson. The crowd responded, doing the wave as he spoke.

In addition to the convocation, students were also encouraged to participate in other Wildcat Welcome events.

“For 10 action-packed days we help you get settled on campus, make new friends, find your way around, find resources to make you successful, explore different groups and communities, and learn what it means to be a Wildcat,” according to the Wildcat Welcome website.

These events, along with several relatively new services, were designed to increase student retention rates. This effort came in response to a directive from the Arizona Board of Regents to increase student retention. During the past academic year, 78 percent of freshmen went on to be sophomores at the UA according to the UA Strategic Plan. The university’s goal is to increase that to 81 percent by 2014. The UA also aims to increase graduation rates.

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