Casey made his remarks at the Opening Convocation, which took place in Kresge Auditorium of the Green Center for the Performing Arts. The 1,400 seat venue was filled for the 3 p.m. event, and an overflow crowd watched the proceedings via a closed circuit TV feed in nearby Moore Theater.
Led by bagpipers, the president and the new students processed through the campus, past historic East College and the academic quadrangle and into the Green Center, where they were greeted by cheering members of the DePauw faculty.
"There are few moments in life when you are as gloriously old as when you are finishing your final year in high school, or secondary school," Casey said as he looked out over the 642 new students who filled the front rows.
After spending the bulk of the day moving into their residence halls and getting acclimated to their new surroundings, the new students and their families gathered in the Green Center to hear from the president and other University leaders.
"This is an old school, and this is a good place," Casey said. "Groups of DePauw faculty have welcomed new students to this campus for 174 years. These grounds echo with the voices of thousands of students and hundreds of DePauw faculty who have gone before. And it has thrived through those years because it is a committed place, a place of learning and transformation, a place of joy and challenge."
Entering college, Casey told the incoming class, is about "wonder and possibility" and urged the students to spend the next four years exploring.
Casey added, "If you do, there will come that day when you comprehend some very difficult concept for the first time, or finish an extremely challenging book, or master a piece of music. And it will be a sign that you have obtained some form of mastery, and some type of wisdom."
Casey added, "So what you are feeling today is your first best moment at DePauw. And it is our feeling, too. We will have always had this day together."
The crowd also heard from Pedar Foss, dean of academic life, associate professor of classical studies and Edwin L. Minar Professor of Classical Studies; Cindy Babington, vice president for student life and dean of students; and David Harvey, vice president for academic affairs and Percy L. Julian Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
After the program, the new students met with their faculty advisers and began the orientation process before saying farewell to their families. Classes begin on Wednesday.