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Getting to know Carrie Grogan Abbott
This past July, while many on campus were enjoying the slower pace of summer, or taking long-anticipated vacations, Carrie Grogan Abbott, director of first-year and transfer programs, was at her desk making dozens of phone calls, sending emails and coordinating complex logistics for one of the University’s biggest events of the year: Syracuse Welcome.
More than 3,700 students arrived on campus Aug. 22 and 23, and it was Abbott—and her many campus partners—who ensured that the experience for first-year students was nothing short of exhilarating. “What’s really unique and wonderful about Syracuse University is that when a new family pulls up to campus, all they see is Orange,” Abbott says. “This institution has always opened its doors, rolled out the orange carpet and said, ‘Welcome to our family. What can we do to help you?’”
A quick look at the numbers gives a glimpse of what’s required to make the award-winning new student orientation program a success. Some 650 current SU students participate in the Goon Squad, helping move students in to their residence halls. Seventy students participate in the Colores program, providing extra assistance to families who speak Spanish. There are 150 staff volunteers, 32 school buses, thousands of ponchos (in the event of rain), 30 golf carts and a huge, white tent on the Quad.
“It takes the whole campus to come together to get ready for and to welcome our new students,” Abbott says. That means coordinating with the Division of Student Affairs, the Office of Admissions, Auxiliary Services, Public Safety, Food Services and of course, Housing.
Feeling settled in their rooms is one of the first priorities for students, Abbott says, so it’s no surprise that one of the most popular events of Syracuse Welcome is a shopping trip to Target in Camillus. But it’s not all about towels, wall art and extension cords. The Chancellor’s Convocation on Friday kicked off the students’ academic careers at SU. “Then we mix in some educational and social programming so students begin to understand and value the diverse nature of our campus and what it means to be a member of our community,” Abbott says.
On the schedule: Home to the Dome, a pep rally where new students learn the SU traditions and cheers; Feel the Pulse, an event downtown in Armory Square; a parade through the streets of downtown led by the Chancellor and the 200-piece SU marching band; and a comedy performance in the Civic Center.
Abbott’s work doesn’t end when Welcome is over. She also schedules activities for Labor Day weekend and is developing a first-year experience plan to ensure the SU welcome extends well into students’ first few semesters on campus.
“SU students are really amazing people. They’re driven. They’re smart. They’ve accomplished more in their average 18 to 22 years than I have,” Abbott says. “I feel really lucky to have the opportunity to make sure they feel settled here.”