The University Record, September 9, 1998

New students urged to take part in all U-M has to offer

By Janet Mendler
News and Information Services

Leaving the home community of family and friends is difficult, Provost Nancy Cantor told the Class of 2002 at last week's New Student Convocation, but she encouraged them to become members of the numerous communities available to them as U-M students.

Family, however, is still integral to their lives, President Lee Bollinger reminded the near capacity crowd at Hill Auditorium. He implored students to take some time over the next few days to write a note to their parents and to those who care deeply about them, acknowledging the love and gratitude "you feel for how they have nurtured you to this important step in your lives."

Cantor urged students to explore "everywhere," to "go outside your comfort zone," as seemingly terrifying as that might be initially. "Try something novel, don't be satisfied with the known."

With 841 recognized student organizations on campus, the variety of cultural, political, educational, spiritual and social groups offers a new community, as do classes, residence halls and roommates. Community size, said Cantor, can range from the 300-student lecture class to the 10-student seminar to the smallest community--the residence hall roommate.

Maureen Hartford, vice president for student affairs, offered three hopes to the Class of 2002 on behalf of the University: That they "work together to build communities, find time for reflection and get to know the faculty."

William Ensminger, chair of the University Senate and professor of pharmacology and of internal medicine, welcomed the students on behalf of the faculty. He too urged students to approach and get to know their professors and to participate fully in extracurricular activities, calling them an excellent place to develop personal relationships and lifelong friendships.

He recalled arriving at the University and feeling overwhelmed by its sheer enormity, compared not only to his high school, but also to the entire community of his hometown of Pittsford, Mich.

While it's not unusual for an incoming class to have representatives from all 50 states, according to Ted Spencer, director of undergraduate admissions, the Class of 2002 sets a new record as it draws from 100 foreign countries. By comparison, 1997 figures for the total student body showed students from 76 countries.

In addition, Spencer told the students and parents, this year's incoming class had the largest number to enter with perfect high school grade-point averages (4.0 or higher), and 80 percent (3,151) are entering with advanced placement credits. More than 70 percent said they participated in community service.

Bollinger told the students that they have "the capability, the maturity, to undertake this new and difficult venture, which is not only a venture in education but also a venture in independence and maturity."

In college, he said, "you really begin the process of choosing, and it really is your choice of what you will fill your minds with, what will stick there, and whether it is poetry or television, knowledge of the natural world, or video games, will significantly--not solely, but significantly--affect the character of the rest of your life."

The simple fact is that "what you will see and think and feel in decades hence will depend upon what you begin to do now in the fields of knowledge and ideas."

Shakespeare, said the U-M president, was right. The students must tend carefully to their imaginations. "You can, with effort, make them flourish and flower" or run the risk of having them become overgrown with weeds.


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