Posted on Friday, August 14, 2020
Westminster College marked the start of its 168th academic year on Friday, Aug. 14, with a pair of physically-distanced Opening Convocation ceremonies at Burry Stadium to welcome its new students to their next four years of learning.
In his invocation, the Rev. James Mohr, campus chaplain, described the beginning of the academic year as a “day of honest ambiguity.”
“We have not seen a beginning quite like this one before,” Mohr said to the members of Westminster’s Class of 2024. With two ceremonies designed to be within the state’s mandated number for outdoor gatherings, the College offered greetings to a sea of physically-distanced masked faces.
“We have been waiting months to see students back on campus and you look great,” Westminster College President Dr. Kathy Brittain Richardson told the 310 incoming first-year and transfer students, most of whom finished out their high school careers last spring learning remotely.
Westminster faced similar challenges in the spring, Richardson said, when the pandemic forced students to a virtual learning format for most of the spring semester.
“But our faculty and students responded to those challenges, learning and working together in ways that epitomize the spirit of the College, the ‘we’ in Westminster,” Richardson said.
“We believe the path to learning and success is not a solitary pathway,” she said. “We believe students should walk, work and learn alongside our faculty. Westminster is a place where faculty care about students and about student success, where they challenge students to work hard to become their very best. I hope that beginning today you will embrace the idea of connection, collaboration and experience, because the ‘we’ in Westminster begins for you here today.”
Members of the Class of 2024, who come to Westminster with a 3.65 high school grade point average, are poised to meet academic success. Biology, nursing, accounting, business administration and criminal justice studies represent the top majors this newest cohort of first-year, first-time students have selected.
Geographically speaking, 21 different states are represented in this year’s incoming class, with most hailing from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Virginia and California. Eugene, Oregon, at more than 2,600 miles away, marks the farthest distance traveled to get to Westminster’s campus.
More than half of the incoming class, at 51%, represent student-athletes. About 34% of enrolled first-years are first-generation college students.
Academic classes for all students begin Monday, Aug. 17.