At the New Student Convocation Wednesday afternoon, faculty, staff and returning students welcomed the class of 2020 to Pitt’s community with advice, anecdotes and a selfie.
The convocation, held in the Petersen Events Center, officially marks the start of the new academic year, Kenyon Bonner, the dean of students, told first year students, transfer students and their families.
Like the first year students in the audience, the convocation was Bonner’s first. He was named to the role in the spring after having previously served as the interim vice provost and dean of students.
Bonner encouraged students to commit themselves to engagement with the university by getting involved with student organizations and reaching out to other students, to see challenges as learning opportunities and to remember the circumstances that led them to this place.
“This is a pivotal time in your life,” Bonner said. “It’s important for you to remember you are not alone.”
According to Chancellor Patrick Gallagher, the class of 2020 is the most diverse class and has the highest test scores of any preceding class. From 30,000 applications, 4,794 new undergraduate students enrolled at Pitt for the fall 2016 term. Of those, 730 are transfer students.
For the fall 2015 term, Pitt received 30,631 applications according to the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid. Of those applicants, 4,094 students enrolled.
As he encouraged students to immerse themselves and embrace their freedom, he reminded them of their responsibility to themselves, one another and their university.
“We want to tell future prospective students about your achievements. You are our new bragging rights,” Gallagher said.
Before exiting the stage, Gallagher took a selfie with the newest class of students for his Twitter page.
Natalie Dall, the student government board president, also had students use their cell phones to record her email, telling them to come to her with concerns or just to get to know one another. Dall was elected SGB president in April.
For Katelyn Petrosky, a first year occupational therapy major, that gesture made the whole experience more personal and helped her feel more comfortable.
“I think after being here, even just for a couple minutes, you start to settle,” she said.