172 years and counting: New academic year opens

This morning, Heidelberg officially launched the 2021-22 academic year – the 172nd in our history – at Opening Convocation, which gave new students their first taste of many time-honored traditions. 

After experiencing T-Bridge and receiving their Heidelberg beanies and “H” pins, President Rob Huntington officially welcomed a total of 299 new students this fall – “an impressive and interesting group with many talents and interests.”

He had this important message to all new and returning students: “Please get engaged, be intentional about everything, and get vaccinated if you have not done so. Do not limit your Big Opportunities and Life Advantages at this university.”

He added, “Our faculty and staff have continued to work diligently to prepare our campus for the start of the fall semester. We want a safe and successful experience for all students and their families. Thank you to everyone,” the president said.

Here are some interesting demographics about the incoming class:

•    8% are from Tiffin and Seneca County
•    11% are enrolled in the Honors Program
•    14% are from Heidelberg Legacy Families
•    15% had a 4.0 or higher GPA in high school, with an average freshman GPA of 3.52)
•    19% are from out of state
•    19% identify as underrepresented students
•    23% competed at Scholars Days
•    40% are first-generation students
•    45% identify as females; 55% as males
•    69% are DIII student-athletes

“And 100% of our new students want to engage and succeed at Heidelberg,” President Huntington said.

“It is our privilege to teach, mentor and serve each one of you in support of your academic and career aspirations. We want all of you to graduate successfully from Heidelberg in four years or sooner to continue your journey and pursue your Life of Purpose with Distinction,” President Huntington said.

34 years later …

Students also heard from Interim Provost Dr. Bryan Smith, who 34 years ago sat in one of those seats as a first-generation student and member of the Class of ’91. He remembers the same feelings of excitement, anxiety and even a little apprehension as he was bombarded with words new to his vocabulary … words such as registrar, financial aid and Pfleiderer.

“But be patient with yourselves. Those words will become part of your vocabulary very soon,” he told them. 

He encouraged the students to take advantage of the opportunities Heidelberg has in store for them: AIM Hei, HYPE, the Owen Center for Teaching and Learning, their faculty advisor. “Find and explore your passions inside and outside of the classroom. Try something new you’ve always wanted to try. Heidelberg is a great environment to explore,” he said.

Students will learn the ability to network with peers, faculty and staff, over 15,000 alumni around the world as well as those outside campus in the Tiffin and Seneca County community. Additionally, they should personalize their experience so “when you graduate … you’ll get your preferred placement in your career, graduate program or professional school.”

The provost said he looks forward the students joining him and other ‘Berg alumni as they become part of the alumni family in 2025.

The traditions continue

Stepping in for Dean of Student Affairs Dr. Chris Abrams, Ashley Helmstetter, executive director of Alumni Engagement and Major Gifts, spoke to the students about traditions they will come to treasure: their Heidelberg beanies, their “H” pins and Sweet Alma Home.

Faculty members joined the new students at Convocation. The audience heard inspiring words from 2002 alumnus Melissa Harrison, a communication and political science double major who found her passion at Heidelberg and parlayed that into a successful career in advertising, PR, media relations and politics. keynote story here. This year’s Student Senate president, senior Noah Kennard, also officially welcomed the new students into the Heidelberg family.

Fresh off their performance at downtown Tiffin’s Band Bash last night, the Heidelberg Marching Band provided musical entertainment for the Convocation. The Chamber Singers also led the singing of Heidelberg’s alma mater, Sweet Alma Home, featuring soloist Seth Eisenhower, a senior. Junior Alex Carter also performed Lift Every Voice and Sing and Chaplain Paul Sittason Stark provided an invocation.

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