Going to college for the first time might give you the jitters.

Searching for Brooks Hall, making new friends and unpacking life’s belongings from a cardboard box all seem a bit daunting.

But Welcome Week is here to alleviate those fears and ensure new students that West Virginia University is their home away from home.

Incoming freshmen and transfer students won’t be taking things slowly this week in their quest to transform into true Mountaineers.

They’ll be immersed in gold-and-blue mania as WVU rolls out Welcome Week 2011– a full slate of activities designed to thrust new students into the heart and soul of the University.

Welcome Week promotes interaction among students, and provides opportunities to learn about the vast resources, support structures and activities available on campus. Approximately 5,000 freshmen will enter WVU this fall.

This year’s events come with a few new twists – one of them being the inaugural First Year Academy, Friday through Sunday (Aug. 19-21). Before students enter the college classroom for the first time, they’ll earn their stripes in the academy, which is required for all new students.

With the first day of classes on Monday (Aug. 22), the academy is intended to serve as a catalyst for a successful academic transition, said Elizabeth Dooley, associate provost for Undergraduate Academic Affairs. It’s all part of the university’s “Blueprint for Student Success.”

Highlighting the weekend will be the University Welcome, an annual tradition, on Saturday at the Coliseum. Organizers call this signature event a student’s “official welcome” to WVU, and it marks the only time the entire incoming freshmen class gathers together in one area at the same time.

There, new students will hear from President Jim Clements, Provost Michele Wheatly, Student Government Association President Jason Bailey and Mountaineer mascot Brock Burwell. Students will watch a Brockumentary, learn the alma mater and traditional cheers, and gain tips on adapting to WVU life. Upon entering the Coliseum, students will receive a free gold T-shirt, which they will be asked to don before singing “Take Me Home, Country Roads” in unison.

“To sing ‘Country Roads’ as a class is a neat way to end the event,” said Stephanie Ballard Conrad, director of University Events. “It’s a goose-bump moment.”

The University Welcome begins at 7:30 p.m. but students will start pouring into the Coliseum at 5:30 p.m. Buses will transport students from their residence halls while free parking at the Coliseum will be available for commuting students. They need not worry about killing time before the start of the event. The Coliseum crowd will get to share their thoughts, photos and new experiences – by texting or tweeting with the Twitter hashtag #wvuwelcome.

Students’ words and images will be displayed on video screens leading up to the official start of the event. For this interactive component, the University is utilizing Wiffiti, a program that engages audiences by publishing their real-time messages to screens. Students will also get to participate in trivia and polling.

The University Welcome is just one of many events scheduled for First Year Academy weekend.

“The First Year Academy is a requirement for all incoming first-year students and will include activities in which students learn about their majors and academic departments, tour the libraries, and learn about services and resources available to them at WVU,” said Ted Vehse, resident faculty leader at Lincoln Hall and lecturer in humanities and religious studies at WVU.

First Year Academy events will include special meetings with resident faculty leaders, residence hall coordinators and residence assistants. Students will also engage in focused academic meetings with faculty and administrators, academic sessions hosted by academic units and special programming for targeted groups.

A welcome cookout, shopping trip and campus tour will further weave newbies into the Mountaineer mold. Buses will be departing from the Mountainlair and Student Rec Center beginning at 5:30 p.m. Friday (Aug. 19) to go to the University Town Centre for the Mountaineer Shopping Extravaganza.

Students will also attend seminars on financial aid, student employment and other topics throughout the weekend. The WVU Alumni Association will host its annual reception for Loyalty Permanent Endowment Fund scholarship winners.

“There will be lots of events during the weekend,” said Keith Garbutt, dean of the Honors College and chair of a committee organizing the First Year Academy. “We’ll have a one-stop shop for students, who’ll learn safety, wellness and how to manage their personal finances. We want students to be prepared and ready on Monday morning to start their college lives.

“This is a first for the First Year Academy so we are hopeful it will be a positive and useful weekend for students.”

The fun doesn’t stop after the First Year Academy. Welcome Week continues through Aug. 27.

One of the most anticipated events of the year, not only for freshmen but all students, is the welcome-back concert celebration FallFest, now in its 16th year. Previous FallFest acts have included Kanye West, Fuel, Third Eye Blind, Akon and Maroon 5. The free concert will be held on the evening of the first day of classes (Aug. 22) on Mountainlair Plaza.

Wrapping up Welcome Week will be “Ask the Expert Day (August 23)”, “Take Action, Get Involved! Day (Aug. 24),” “Multicultural Day (Aug. 25)” and “Traditions Day (Aug. 26).”

Some events are designed to welcome smaller groups of students while being open to all.

The Center for Black Culture and Research is hosting its annual Horace and Geraldine Belmear Reception on Aug. 25 from 6-8 p.m. in the Mountainlair Blue Ballroom. The reception is open to the WVU and local communities and welcomes new black students and faculty while honoring the Belmears who worked diligently with the campus’ black student groups for more than 50 years. The center will also be holding a welcome back barbecue Sept. 1 from noon to 3 p.m.

“It’s important to start off your year on the right foot,” said Trish Cendana, director of the Office of Residential Education. “The first week of college is an exciting time for students. For first-time students, they are starting their college career and learning how to adjust to college life. Students need to know the resources available to them to be successful, and Welcome Week helps them learn how to achieve success.”

“Welcome Week is important for new students, because it brings them officially into the Mountaineer fold and sets the tone for a successful first semester, in fact a successful first year,” Vehse said. “We all want our new Mountaineers to feel like part of the family, to see why their time in college will be some of the best years of their lives, and understand what the faculty and the University at large expect of them as members of this unique community.”

For more details, go to: http://welcomeweek.wvu.edu/

By Jake Stump
University Relations/News



CONTACT: University Relations/News

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