Lawrence University’s newest students arrived on campus Tuesday, greeted enthusiastically by faculty, staff, fellow students, and special guests—highlighted by a festive President’s Welcome in a nearly full Memorial Chapel.
Members of the Class of 2027 and transfer students moved into residence halls, posed for a class photo, and began a week of orientation festivities aimed at building connections and getting engaged with campus before classes begin next week.
The students—339 first-years and 28 transfers—were greeted by applause as they processed through the Lawrence Arch on their way to the Chapel for the President’s Welcome, a moment that signals their arrival as Lawrentians. It’s part a tradition that began a year ago when the Arch was built, one that will have its connecting piece four years from now.
“When you graduate, you will process from the Commencement stage back through the Arch, signaling the end of one journey and the beginning of another,” President Laurie A. Carter said as she addressed the incoming students from the Chapel stage.
Faculty and staff joined alumni and parents and other loved ones in lining the sidewalks prior to the President’s Welcome, greeting the new students with cheers and high-fives as they made their way to the Chapel.
Among those greeting the students was Appleton Mayor Jake Woodford, himself a 2013 Lawrence alumnus.
“Appleton and Lawrence share a deep connection, dating all the way back to our founding,” Woodford told the gathered students. “This history has been shaped by the people who have called this community home. And now that you’re here, and while you’re here, Appleton will be home to you, too.”
Carter encouraged the students to get involved and embrace the opportunities before them. While they will be challenged at times—in and out of the classroom—they will never walk the journey alone, she said.
“The days ahead will not always be easy,” Carter said. “But please know that you are surrounded by faculty, staff, and classmates who will walk alongside you every step of the way. As a Lawrentian, you are never alone.”
Kristi Koshuta, the first-year dean, led a months-long planning effort to reimagine Lawrence’s Welcome Week, with a focus placed on small groups and meaningful engagement. She said those efforts will pay off not only with a more intentional Welcome Week but with lasting connections that will make for a smoother first year. As Lawrence’s inaugural first-year dean, she will be with those students as they navigate their first year on campus.
“Be open to trying new things, connecting with new people, and engaging in new opportunities and experiences,” Koshuta said. “Be willing to take risks; be willing to fail; be willing to ask for help.”
Peter Blitstein, provost and dean of faculty, told the students they will feel the support of the faculty even while being challenged in new ways.
“Starting college can be exciting and confusing and scary,” Blitstein said. “I can’t promise to alleviate all possible anxieties, but I can promise that you’ve joined a community that will support you in a compelling journey of self-discovery and personal development.”
Senior Anders Hanhan, president of the Lawrence University Community Council, welcomed the incoming students to Lawrence, encouraging them to get involved but also to care for themselves along the way. With three years of experience as an undergrad, he knows that is often easier said than done.
“Be mindful of your free time, make sure to schedule time into your day for yourself and the things that excite you,” he said. “You are here to learn, but great learners recognize the importance of self-care and self-reflection as much as academics.”
Hanhan walked the new students through the process of signing the Lawrence University Honor Code, a pledge signed by all students to uphold academic integrity and excellence. And he led the passing of the class color—green—from the Class of 2023 to the Class of 2027. The passing of the class colors—red, yellow, green, and purple—from the class that just graduated to the incoming class is a long-standing Lawrence tradition, adapted from a tradition began by Milwaukee-Downer College for Women prior to its 1964 merger with Lawrence.
It's a tradition that “builds a sense of unity,” Hanhan said.
Carter referenced the exciting construction projects that are taking place on and near campus, all building on the student experience. They include the Fox Commons renovations that will add living-learning communities for upwards of 180 Lawrence students in the heart of downtown; the 315 E. College Ave. building project that will be home to the Trout Museum of Art and state-of-the-art academic spaces for Lawrence faculty and students; a new track and field complex at Whiting Field; and a new team complex at Banta Bowl.
“The Lawrence experience, already brilliant, is being elevated to new levels,” Carter said. “You will see it and live it during your time as students, and for that we couldn’t be more excited.”
Returning students will be back on campus the weekend of Sept. 9-10. Fall term begins Sept. 11.