Ursinus Welcomes Class of 2021

New students participate in academic convocation and First-year Day of Service.

Ursinus College welcomed more than 400 members of the Class of 2021 during move-in day for first-year students on Thursday, Aug. 24, followed by academic convocation in Bomberger Hall, marking the official start of the academic year, on Friday, Aug. 25.

“At Ursinus, we take your growth seriously,” President Brock Blomberg told the class. “Soon you will realize just how empowered you are to create your own path forward and to make the most of your academic experience.”

“Almost every Ursinus student has begun his or her journey with an academic convocation in this beautiful hall,” he said. “In that respect, you are among thousands of alumni. Think about that. Your place in Ursinus history is sealed. Your charge, moving forward, is to carry forth the college’s historic liberal arts legacy—and to shape our future, both for you and the generations of students that follow.”

The new students also heard remarks from Christian Rice ’98, visiting assistant professor of philosophy and religion and assistant dean for civic engagement; Missy Bryant, assistant dean of students and co-director of the Institute for Student Success; and Lisa Grossbauer, instructor of mathematics, among others. 

Grossbauer read to the class a personal letter she wrote to her own daughter, who is also beginning her college career this year.

Mark Schneider, vice president of academic affairs and dean of the college, said Ursinus will “transform a life of experiences into a life of meaning, but you are not alone in your journey.”

During the ceremony, Blomberg installed two faculty members as endowed chairs: Nicholas Scoville as the Joseph T. Beardwood III Chair of Mathematics, and Carol Dole as the McClure Professor of English.

Students left Bomberger Hall following convocation through “the gauntlet” of faculty, staff and students, a traditional rite of passage for the incoming class, greeted by the entire campus community with cheers, applause and well-wishes. The students then attended their first Common Intellectual Experience class of the semester.

On Saturday, Aug. 26, teams of first-year students spent their first weekend as part of their new college community pitching in to help members of their new broader community during First-year Day of Service. The work reflects Ursinus’s commitment to civic engagement in all aspects of campus life, including academics and social activities.

The annual event is presented by UCARE, the Ursinus Center for Advocacy, Responsibility and Engagement. UCARE serves as the hub for community engagement and social advocacy at Ursinus College. 

This year, service locations included the Ursinus Organic Farm; Rambo Park in Trappe; Parkhouse Nursing and Rehabilitation in Royersford; Camphill Village Kimberton Hills in Phoenixville; St. Mary’s Franciscan Shelter in Phoenixville; Martha’s Choice Marketplace in Norristown; and Frederick Living in Frederick.

“I visited Ursinus three times and could really feel a sense of community here,” says Morgan Sotoloff ’21, a first-year student from Bucks County, Pa., and a graduate of William Tennent High School. “Everyone has been really welcoming and all of the orientation activities have really shown us that sense of community. I feel very welcome and ready to start classes.”

In the Class of 2021, 30 percent of students are first-generation; 12 percent are legacy students; 62 percent were high school student-athletes; 43 percent are community service volunteers; and 23 percent are involved in the performing arts. —By Ed Moorhouse