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With ‘Scholarship in Action’ theme, Syracuse Welcome 2006 invites new students to intellectual, community engagement
With ‘Scholarship in Action’ theme, Syracuse Welcome 2006 invites new students to intellectual, community engagementAugust 23, 2006Matthew R. Snydermrsnyder@syr.edu
This August, about 3,000 new first-year and transfer students will arrive at Syracuse University to begin the 2006-07 academic year. Immediately upon their arrival, and throughout their first year, these students will be immersed in the University’s vision for “Scholarship in Action.” With its emphases on excellence, access, support and engagement with the world, Scholarship in Action is also the theme of Syracuse Welcome 2006: A Slice of SU Life, the University’s signature new-student orientation program. The theme will be evident to new students as they are welcomed aboard by experienced student and staff volunteers, engaged in intellectual explorations, and invited to delve into the University and Central New York communities.
The University-wide planning for Syracuse Welcome–now in its fourth year–will culminate with a series of events and programs leading up to the first day of classes, Aug. 28, and continuing into the academic year. Information on Syracuse Welcome 2006 events is updated several times each week at the program’s interactive website, http://orientation.syr.edu, which also contains forums, answers to frequently asked questions, forms and registration information.
“Through programs such as our shared reading and online communities, we have already begun to bring the classes of 2010 and 2011 into the intellectual and cultural communities that define the Syracuse University experience,” says Mariana Lebron, director of the Office of Orientation and Transitions Services (OTS). “Students are especially excited by this year’s focus on intellectual engagement with one another and the opportunities for engagement with the community of which the University is a part.” OTS, a unit of the Division of Student Affairs, coordinates Syracuse Welcome in conjunction with academic and administrative units across campus, institutions in the Central New York community and thousands of volunteers.
“Since its inception, Syracuse Welcome’s benefits to new students have been intertwined with the excellent work and collaboration of talented faculty and staff, the creation of opportunities and support for students, and the meaningful connection of students and community,” says Barry L. Wells, senior vice president and dean of student affairs. “Scholarship in Action empowers us to make this nationally recognized new-student welcome program even better and will give students a great start in shaping their own Syracuse University experiences.”
Chancellor Nancy Cantor is noted for her view that, in the knowledge economy, the modern university is a power broker with a duty to educate future leaders and create positive social capital. Accordingly, new students will be greeted by a slate of events and programs designed to connect their intellectual pursuits with the world at large.
One highlight is the University’s shared reading program. All new students have received and been asked to read “The Kite Runner” (Riverhead, 2004), by Khaled Hosseini, a novel that explores ethnic and cultural boundaries and looks at the pressures they place on human relationships. The book will be the focus of the Chancellor’s Convocation, the annual academic kickoff that is required for all new students, Aug. 25 at 10:30 a.m. Cantor will welcome all new SU and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry students and their families with words of encouragement and welcome; then, before the traditional lunch on the turf and departure of families, professors Tazim Kassam and Arthur Flowers will lead a conversation about the book as a jumping-off point for related classroom activities, such as the Writing Program’s integrated assignment on the book. To assist with such classroom activities, the University Library has developed a related study guide, which will be updated and linked from http://orientation.syr.edu throughout the summer and the academic year. Additionally, the book has been chosen by community organization CNY Reads, the largest “one book, one community” organization in New York, as its text for the year.
Students will also be welcomed to the intellectual life of the University through their school and college convocations, which take place during the afternoon following the Chancellor’s Convocation. Hosted by the deans, these convocations will provide important academic information and begin the academic advising process. Schedules for these and other school and college events, including placement exams, can be seen by visiting the “Orientation Schedules” section of the OTS website and clicking the “Highlights of Important Academic Events” link. Students are encouraged to pay attention to the specific intellectual engagement events hosted by their home schools or colleges, such as campus tours, picnics and community events. Students will also have access to nearly 500 student peer advisors, coordinated by schools and colleges, to help them transition to the intellectual challenges of the academy.
On Aug. 28, students will have the opportunity to participate in an artistic event that will tie together the cultural influences that are central to “The Kite Runner,” when the Syracuse Symposium hosts a performance of Afghan music and dance by the Noor Wodjouatt Ensemble. Co-sponsored by OTS, the event will be free and open to the University and Central New York communities.
Welcome to the University Community
“Throughout the history of new-student orientation at SU, and especially since the inception of Syracuse Welcome, the warmth and support of our student volunteers have been absolutely crucial to people’s positive experiences with the opening of the University,” says Lebron, who expects about 1,500 returning students to help welcome their new peers. As in past years, the friendly faces of the Goon Squad will be among the first seen by students and their families during move-in Aug. 23-24. Goons–a traditional University-organized group of students, faculty and staff–help unload cars and settle students into their residence halls. Families will also have access to the “Taking Care of Business” tent on the Quad, where they can ask questions, gather information, and enjoy refreshments.
Syracuse Welcome also depends on orientation leaders, a group of 26 students who represent the University by working with students, family and friends to answer questions, provide information, offer support, and share first-hand experiences. Orientation leaders work in conjunction with student peer advisors and resident advisors. New for this year, the Office of Student Life has organized a group called the Orange Crew, consisting of students who will assist with Syracuse Welcome programs and events. Other student organizations assisting with Syracuse Welcome include Los Colores, a group of students who assist Spanish-speaking families during move-in, and OrangeSeeds, a group that develops student leaders.
Numerous campus organizations and departments host pre-orientation events, including Students Offering Services’ construction of a Habitat for Humanity house, as well as a number of experiences hosted by campus ministries and spiritual organizations. An additional highlight is the Department of Recreation Services’ Leadership Outdoor Orientation Program (LOOP). This four-day program, beginning Aug. 20 and open to the first 40 students who register via http://orientation.syr.edu/suwelcome06/loop.php, brings new students and orientation leaders together in the Adirondack Park to build teamwork, trust, communication, respect and friendships. Activities include whitewater rafting, ropes courses, hiking, canoeing and kayaking.
Once students have moved in, they will participate in many student life activities; a full schedule is online at http://orientation.syr.edu by clicking on the “Orientation Schedules” link. Key events include:
- Aug. 24, 9-11 p.m.: In “From Home to the Dome: Orangefest 2006,” students will learn the traditions of SU spirit and get their first introduction to rocking the “Loud House” in style.
- Aug. 25, 6-9 p.m.: In “We’re Not in High School Anymore,” former SU All-American football player Don McPherson will lead students in a conversation on sexuality, relationships, open communication and celebration of diversity.
- Aug. 25, 9 p.m.-midnight: “Orange Blast,” sponsored by the Residence Hall Association and Learning Communities Activities Board, will provide a wide variety of social activities.
- Sept. 3, noon-6 p.m.: “Juice Jam” will present a student-organized celebration of student activities and music. Past performers have included De La Soul and Dashboard Confessional, and this year’s details will be announced soon.
Welcome to Central New York
One of the signature events of Syracuse Welcome was initiated in 2005, when students participated in “Exploring the Soul of Downtown Syracuse,” an up-close and personal introduction to the rich historical, social, cultural and artistic opportunities of downtown Syracuse. This year’s event, which will be held Aug. 26, has been tailored to students’ needs based on feedback from 2005 participants; students will be shuttled to Clinton Square for a cultural festival showcasing the arts, culture and organizations that nourish and strengthen the community, and will learn about opportunities for community engagement. Syracuse Welcome 2006 will also draw students’ attention to the Connective Corridor. This community-wide partnership is creating a center for the arts and culture through design of a landscape and transit system to link the people and activities of the University Hill and downtown Syracuse. More information on the Connective Corridor is online at http://connectivecorridor.syr.edu, and details of “Exploring the Soul of Downtown Syracuse” will be announced in the coming weeks.
For more information on Syracuse Welcome 2006, contact OTS at 443-1012 or check for updates daily at http://orientation.syr.edu.