UChicago community welcomes new students to campus

New graduate and undergraduate students take part in Orientation Week activities

The University of Chicago community welcomed new graduate and undergraduate students to campus this week with activities and events aimed at introducing them to their peers and their new academic home.

On Sept. 20, new undergraduate students made their official entrance into the UChicago community during Opening Convocation. The event in Rockefeller Memorial Chapel included remarks from President Paul Alivisatos and Melina Hale, the new dean of the College. Students then said goodbye to their families and joined a bagpipe procession across the Main Quadrangles and through Hull Gate. 

In her inaugural public remarks as dean to the Class of 2027, Hale expressed her gratitude and pride to be taking part in this tradition. She encouraged students to seek support from the ample resources the University has to offer, as well as from their peers, as they encounter the challenges of the College’s rigorous curriculum.

“Sometimes the hardest thing is understanding what you as an individual need and asking for it. I promise that students and faculty members who you would most look up to rely on network of friends, loved ones, mentors and support structures,” she said.

“Most of us have not only great intellectual strengths, but also areas in which we struggle. Think about what support you might need and ask for help. And be a support for your friends and others around you.”

Prof. Christopher Wild on Sept. 21 delivered this year’s Aims of Education address and talked about the importance of academic freedom and intellectual courage.

On Sept. 19, incoming graduate students across UChicago’s 12 schools and divisions marked the beginning of their academic year with the University’s traditional celebratory bagpipe procession. Incoming students connected with new peers and colleagues as they made their way from the Main Quadrangles to Rockefeller Chapel, where they were welcomed into the University with Convocation remarks from Alivisatos, faculty speakers and leaders of the University’s Graduate Council.

Alivisatos reflected on the diversity of experiences and intellectual dynamism that incoming graduate students bring to the University community. Alivisatos also emphasized the importance of critical rigor, open inquiry and free expression in graduate students’ mission to arrive at pioneering insights in their various fields during their time at the UChicago.

Full video of the Opening Convocation ceremony (video by UChicago Creative)

“As students, you will embark on an effort to extend the forefront of knowledge and practice in your fields,” said Alivisatos. “Engage in debates, challenge your beliefs, and most importantly, stay curious.”

Noting that the University offers an environment where “there is wisdom to be gleaned from every corner and every voice,” Alivisatos encouraged students to seek “moments when dots connect” and test new conclusions can only be reached through open discourse and debate. “My deep hope is that light shines on exactly the piece of knowledge you seek,” said Alivisatos.

Full video of the Aims of Education address (video by UChicago Creative)

The bagpipe procession and Rockefeller Chapel Convocation were the first in a series of daylong graduate orientation activities to welcome students, connect them to campus life and provide opportunities to network and socialize. Other activities included a resource fair in Ida Noyes Hall featuring more than 50 campus centers and offices, and an event examining the past and future of free expression at UChicago. Specialized sessions also offered resources for international students and an exploration of UChicagoGRAD’s fellowship database and advising services. 

Learn more about graduate student orientation at the UChicagoGRAD website. Learn more about O-Week for undergraduate students at the College website.