The excitement over the arrival of the Class of 2017 continued August 28 with President Lee Pelton shaking the hands of every student before they were ushered into the Cutler Majestic Theatre and greeted by dancing orientation leaders.
“We are at a particular moment in our history—an exciting moment,” Pelton told the 870 freshmen and 180 transfer students in a speech to officially convene the new class. “Whether you are in front of the camera or behind it, whether you are directors or actors, whether you teach the speechless to speak or you speak to others…you are Emerson.”
Continuing the theme that started with Emerson’s vibrantly unique move-in procedures earlier in the week, upperclass student orientation leaders greeted the freshmen with singing and dancing inside the theater as speakers blasted upbeat music and Emerson trivia questions were posted on a motion picture screen.
“[These] will be four years of intense engagement in the arts, communication, and liberal arts,” Pelton said.
“[These are] powerful fields of inquiry that develop your ability to think appreciatively but also deeply about the world we inhabit, and give you the tools to make the world a better place.”
Assistant Professor Ruth Grossman, of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, encouraged students to seek the help of their instructors whenever they have questions on material.
“Despite what you might think at 2:00 am the night before a final, we actually want you to succeed,” said Grossman, recipient of last year’s Helaine and Stanley Miller Award for Outstanding Teaching. “So use us. Come to office hours. I have chocolate, I have jelly beans, I have hot cocoa. If you guys don’t show up, I’m liable to eat it all myself,” she said as students laughed.
More than 9,000 people applied to Emerson for this academic year—a record number of applicants, said MJ Knoll-Finn, vice president for enrollment, while addressing the students. She said 98 percent of accepted students graduated from high school in the academic top half of their classes, averaging a 3.6 grade point average.
“Clearly, you’ve done something right,” Knoll-Finn said. “You have worked very hard—and we know it—in your high school years to be here today.”
More than 80 percent of new students come from outside of Massachusetts and more than 60 percent are from outside New England with California being the second-highest feeder state, Knoll-Finn said. More than 27 percent of students are from multicultural or international backgrounds, she said.
Sylvia Spears, vice president for diversity and inclusion, reminded students that “active engagement with diversity of backgrounds, diversity of thought, and diversity of perspective enriches the experience of all members of our community.”
“During your time here, I encourage you to embrace all that Emerson has to offer,” she said. “Do it with an open mind, and, most importantly, with an open heart.”