DePauw students welcomed to town, campus Saturday

Sunday, August 23, 2015
Firing up the new students, DePauw University President Brian Casey gets ready for a processional across campus Saturday to deliver the opening address. (DePauw University/LARRY LIGGET)

More than 600 new DePauw University students were welcomed Saturday to "a place where people come to change the world."

That was among the things the 619 new students were told at the annual opening convocation Saturday afternoon.

"You never know what complex array of interests and loves and connections and passions you will encounter on this campus, with this faculty and with your fellow students," DPU President Brian W. Casey said. "And you don't know which of these things are the things that will stun you and will become your newest interests, and these interests might not line up perfectly. I'm telling you that that's not only okay, it's glorious."

DePauw's 19th president, who announced earlier this month he will leave the university at the end of the school year for a position at Colgate, addressed members of the Class of 2019 and their families in Kresge Auditorium of the Green Center for the Performing Arts after their busy day of moving into residence halls and mingling with other new students at a picnic lunch.

DePauw's Class of 2019 comes from 23 different countries. Of the new students, 594 are first-years, another 16 are transferring to Greencastle and there are nine international exchange students this fall.

Classes for the 2014-15 academic year begin Wednesday.

"In the next few days," Casey said, "you'll be asked a million times, 'Where are you from?', 'What dorm do you live in?', 'What do you want to major in?' And these are all variations on the bigger question of, 'Who are you?' And you will have your pat answers, but know that in very short order your answers to these questions will be changed, because you will have been changed. Your education will be upon you."

Student body president Craig Carter invited the new undergraduates to begin "a journey that few have traveled but many have envied, because DePauw is a place where people come to change the world."

The senior biology major urged the Class of 2019 to take advantage of the connections the DePauw community has to offer and embrace the challenges ahead.

English professor Joseph Heithaus also spoke after being selected by last year's senior class to address the opening convocation.

Bagpipers lead the processional of DePauw University faculty and new students across campus before the opening convocation on Saturday. (DePauw University/LARRY LIGGET)

"You are, in this moment of your life, in that 'strange river' between childhood and adulthood," Heithaus said. "Fortunately for you, there is a whole cast of faculty and staff to help you negotiate that space. But we're not going to give you answers; we'll help you develop your own questions, and we'll give you languages to discern and to begin to understand."

Heithaus based his talk around the poem "The Beginning of Speech" by Adonis, a Syrian poet who will visit campus next month. The poem reflects on the transformation from childhood to becoming an adult.

"They say that when we die, our lives flash before us. I think on the day we go to college, our lives flash before our parents' eyes," Heithaus noted as he looked out at the students and parents.

"On this day and in the days to come, you will have many moments of confusion, but you will also have moments of pristine clarity, moments you will remember the rest of your lives," the poet and professor said, reminding the Class of 2019, "as you move away from the child you were, to not leave the child behind, to draw upon that deep primal self, that connection to the earliest life -- creative, profound, and ever changing, that lives in each of you."

The new students and their families also heard from Anne Harris, vice president for academic affairs; Christopher Wells, vice president for student life; and Donald M. Phelan, president of the DePauw Alumni Association.

After the program, students said goodbye to their families, had dinner with faculty advisers and gathered for a class social.

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  • My wife says that she could retire on the annual alcohol purchases from Wal-Mart made by DePauw students and their parents. Guess these are the kinds of experiences Dr Casey wishes for his students.

    -- Posted by Vernie1 on Mon, Aug 24, 2015, at 5:17 PM
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