The new students, hailing from across America and several foreign countries, arrived on campus last week, settled into their dorm rooms and acclimated to the Western way with a full series of Orientation events. Their families helped them move into their new homes away from home, with such prosaic names as Colorado, Robidoux and Ute halls.
Following a barbecue dinner with their families, the new students adjourned to the the new (in March) Mountaineer Field House, where Matthew Ebbott, a senior lecturer in Recreation & Outdoor Education, led them in activities – such as pairing off with others wearing similar shirts and shoes – that encouraged them to meet and get to know each other.
They bounced giant beach balls around the 65,000-square-foot indoor track and athletics floor.
They built sculptures with balloons and masking tape.
Many joined the "Running of the Red" in faceless unitard suits beside the racers of the USA Pro Challenge, which cruised through Gunnison and the Western campus last week.
President Greg Salsbury, who joined the Western Nation officially in May, told the gathered freshmen during a speech in Taylor Auditorium that they were unique in their choice of Western – noting the majority of high school students in Colorado hadn't even heard of the university, and nearly 18 million other freshman chose different schools. But he praised their choice and noted a long list of famously successful Western alumni – along with many famous people who had faced bankruptcy and other failures. He encouraged the new students to fail at Western, so they might succeed in life, based on the lessons learned from mistakes. He promised a nurturing environment that encouraged well-thought-out risks, whether in class or in outdoor adventures.
Along with the rest of the student body – including Western's first recent class of resident graduate students in the new Master in Environmental Management program – the new Westerners are settling into classes. They'll enjoy a huge welcome party at the nearby I-Bar Ranch. And those in Western's new School of Business will undoubtedly build new traditions in Borick Hall and beyond.
Story and Photographs by Greg Smith, Western State Colorado University Communications.