SUNY Oneonta kicked off the 2022-23 academic year with a host of events to welcome our newest Red Dragons, celebrate returning students, faculty and staff, and engage the entire campus community in a spirit of optimism and excitement for the weeks and months ahead.
The campus was bustling with activity on Wednesday and Thursday, Aug, 24-25, when more than 1,400 new first-year and transfer students moved into their residence halls. Dozens of student, faculty and staff volunteers wearing red shirts and “How can I help?” buttons checked students in, kept the traffic flow moving and helped unload packed cars. During orientation, new students connected with their Dragon Guide peer mentors, learned where to find everything from buffalo chicken wraps to academic tutoring to care packages from home, and got tips for success from faculty and staff.
The quad was a sea of red on Sunday, Aug. 28, when the campus community came together, clapping and cheering, to officially welcome the Class of 2026 during the traditional Pass Through the Pillars event. After a class photo on the hillside overlooking the upper quad, new students walked between the pillars of Old Main – the college’s first building – and into a welcoming crowd.
Classes started Monday, Aug. 29, and the campus community celebrated with a festive picnic on the library quad.
“You’ve got the right stuff”
As part of orientation weekend, the college held an academic convocation ceremony to welcome new students into our scholarly community and give them a sense of belonging and unity right away.
Dressed in academic regalia, college President Alberto Cardelle kicked off the ceremony by taking a picture of the Class of 2026 from the Dewar Arena stage. “I took that photo as a reminder that the next time we will be able to take a picture like this will be during your commencement ceremony in this very same building,” he said.
Cardelle reminded the new students that only 15% of the world’s population has a bachelor’s degree and encouraged them to make the most of the privilege. “You are here because we know that you can be successful in each and every one of your semesters. You’ve got the right stuff, and we’re here to help you be successful,” he said. “My advice to you: Enjoy it and take advantage of it, because it is indeed a special opportunity at a very special place.”
Vice President of Student Affairs Tracy Johnson introduced the college’s mission and Acting Vice President of Academic Affairs Eileen Morgan-Zayachek shared the six college experiences that graduates in a recent survey cited as having a positive and lasting impact on their careers and personal growth. Professor of Anthropology Tracy Betsinger closed the ceremony with five tips for success and urged students to keep an open mindset, step out of their comfort zones and find their “academic joy.”
Building on a successful first year in office, President Cardelle is looking forward to implementing new ideas and programs outlined in the college’s Regaining Momentum Agenda. Developed following a series of open forums with faculty, staff, students and local community leaders throughout the spring 2022 semester, the plan identifies strategic opportunities to guide the college during the next 18 months. Key efforts already underway include:
- A new student success leadership team charged with developing new tactics and strategies to improve student retention and persistence
- A Faculty Academy professional development program focused on inclusive pedagogies. The first cohort of 12 faculty representing a variety of academic disciplines participated in a training led by award-winning educator Paul Hernandez, author of “The Pedagogy of Real Talk: Engaging, Teaching and Connection With Students At-Promise.”
- A newly established Regional Innovation Council that brings together area leaders in healthcare, education, non-profits, government and business to identify and implement new partnerships aimed at strengthening economic, cultural and community development in the region
The first few weeks of the fall semester will be filled with activities, including a fall concert featuring the band Offset as the headliner, a club eXpo where new students will meet representatives from many of the college’s 150+ student-run organizations, and the first in-person Family Weekend since fall 2019.
On Oct. 24, author, activist and actor George Takei – best known for his role as Sulu on the 1960s TV series “Star Trek” – will present SUNY Oneonta’s 2022 Mills Distinguished Lecture in the college’s Alumni Field House. Takei will discuss his New York Times best-selling graphic memoir, “They Called Us Enemy,” which is the college’s 2022 Common Read book selection.