With candles lit and the bell ringing, the university welcomed the biggest class in the school’s history.
Upper classmen helped the new students move into their homes away from home while moms and dads said their tearful goodbyes. But that is when the fun of Welcome Week 2009 began.
“Overall, the amount of students was a great increase and change,” said David Keil, Welcome Week co-director and senior marketing major.
The steering committee worked hard to reach its main goal—to make the freshmen’s and transfers’ first week an experience they wouldn’t forget.
“We wanted to initiate new students by making them feel comfortable with our university as well as provide them with knowledge of their surroundings—the school spirit and traditions— so that by their first day of class they felt like part of the UMHB family,” Keil said.
Senior art major, Lauren Allen, was the promotions leader on the Welcome Week steering committee.
“I made the logos, T-shirts, books, nametags and postcards that went out to all the students,” she said. Allen has been involved with Welcome Week for four years.
“I was an incoming freshman, the next year an aunt and have been on the (steering) committee the past two years,” she said.
Carlton Lemley, senior business management major, has been part of the tradition for five years.
“A lot of what happened this week was changes we had made last year, only perfected,” Lemley said.
“I think the highlights started with Cru Com Kick- Off,” he said. “We (the steering committee) put in over 150 hours of work toward that specific night for one reason: to keep people coming back.”
Along with a new take on Cru Com Kick-Off, also known as Wednesday Night Live, new events were added to the itinerary.
“The drive-in movie, the amount of free time given, the scavenger hunt, midnight worship—including the variety of seminars they had— and, oh yeah, Phil Wickham. (It) was all new,” Keil said.
The leadership teams believe the Welcome Week activities gave incoming students a glimpse of the university’s objective of building community among students from all walks of life.
“Campus events are what make people excited to attend and be here,” Lemley said. “It’s important for us to send the message that our university is willing to do the extra work… to make the students’ experience something that is truly memorable. Bringing in Phil Wickham to end the week did exactly that,” he said.
Keil believes this year’s program set a high standard for the Welcome Week tradition in the future.
“I would like to say this was the best Welcome Week yet, but I’m kind of biased,” Keil said. “The committee this year was amazing, and I was so proud of each person individually for the input they
gave and desire to set a new level for Welcome Week.”
Crediting co-directors from years before, Keil is hopeful to see what is to come for this tradition’s future.
“If it wasn’t for the previous years, we wouldn’t even know what to develop or how to make things better,” he said. “It’s … a continuing process that can hopefully only move in a positive way.”