Students and Parents Begin Arriving for Orientation


That's the year most members of the University of Virginia's class of 2016 were born, entering the world on the brink of the 21st century, just in time for both the excitement of New Year's Eve 1999 and the solemnity, just two years later, of 9/11 to be part of their collective memory.

They are about to add more formative memories. The incoming first-year students, along with those transferring into the classes of 2014 and 2015, will receive their official introduction to U.Va. this week with the start of summer orientation.

Some 600 to 650 students, many with their parents or a guest in tow, will check in Thursday morning for Session A. Although most are from Virginia, at least one student is expected to make the trip from Hawaii, and others will be coming from California, Washington, Texas, Kansas, Michigan, Florida and New York, representing all corners of the country.

Four more sessions similar in size, each two days in length, will follow throughout July for incoming first-year students. Transfer students and their parents will come to Grounds for a one-day session, either July 19 or 20.

A final session, Aug. 22-24, will take place right before move-in for international students and others who could not make an earlier session. Many of the international students will fly in to Dulles Airport, where they will receive a warm welcome from U.Va. representatives and ride to Grounds on the U.Va. Express.

Greg Roberts, dean of admission, and his staff started getting to know this newest class when applications began coming in for early action admission, which the University implemented for the first time in fall 2011.

"I love this class of first-year and transfer students," Roberts said. "I can't recall a group that has brought such a wide range of talents, backgrounds and interests to the University. It's exciting to imagine a suite in the Alderman residence area with a student from El Salvador living with a student from Danville; a poet living with a mechanical engineer, and a soccer player living with a budding politician.

"This is a fun mixture of students who also bring in the strongest academic credentials in University history. They will definitely make the mark on this community in the future."

Tabitha Enoch, director of orientation and new student programs, noticed how quickly the new students signed up this year for orientation. "These students are definitely on the ball," said Enoch, who is marking her 10th summer of overseeing the orientation program. "They didn't wait, and they didn't need to be reminded of deadlines."

Due to construction this summer in Newcomb Hall, Enoch and her staff moved from their first-floor offices and set up shop in a large, open conference room on the fourth floor. Newcomb 481 has become "Orientation Headquarters," with Enoch, assistant director Shraddha Prasad, coordinator Tim Eckert, office assistants Jackie Desch and Nick Spicer and graduate intern Allison McGuire responding to hundreds of inquiries and coordinating detail after detail to ensure that all runs smoothly.

Also major front-line players in the orientation operation are 52 undergraduate students who serve as orientation leaders. They will live with the new students in Hereford College and provide guidance on everything from how to navigate the Grounds to how to adjust to sharing space with a roommate.

As in past years, this year's orientation program introduces new students to University people, student leaders and important aspects of U.Va. life, such as the Honor System. They take their first pass at course registration, receive their student ID cards, and get to have some evening fun at the Aquatic & Fitness Center.

After checking in on the first day, students and parents part ways to attend separate programs. Parents have the first morning free to tour the Grounds or Clemons Library or to attend an open house at the University Bookstore. Their official program gets under way with welcome remarks from Patricia M. Lampkin, vice president and chief student affairs officer, and Allen Groves, dean of students, in Old Cabell Hall auditorium. The first day ends with a reception at Alumni Hall, where parents can meet one another and chat informally with faculty and staff.

A highlight of the second day is a resource fair, where parents and students can learn about dining plans, computers and University services.

One of the more popular parent sessions is the 45-minute "Move-In Day and Beyond" talk by members of the Housing and Residence Life staff. From asking about parking and traffic on move-in day to getting advice on what kind of laundry detergent to pack for their new student, parents learn what to expect on that (always) hot day in August when they will move their daughter or son into a dorm and say goodbye. This year, Housing and Residence Life will be introducing its "one-door stop" – the main office in Kent Hall – for students to obtain answers to any and all questions about housing and residence life. The recent blending of the Housing Division and the Residence Life office, with the hiring of associate dean and executive director Gay Perez to oversee both units, has made this possible.

As occurred last year, move-in will consist of a two-day staggered schedule with students moving in on either Aug. 24 or 25. Students will find out which day they should plan to move in when they access their housing and roommate assignments on Friday.

Slated for the Aug. 24, move-in are: Bonnycastle, Echols, Hancock and Page houses in the McCormick Road Residence Area; Courtenay, Fitzhugh, Kellogg, Watson-Webb and Woody houses in the Alderman Road Residence Area; and buildings 383, 385, 387, 388 and 389 in Gooch/Dillard.

On Aug. 25, the following areas will move in: Emmet, Humphreys, Kent-Dabney and Metcalf-Lefevre houses in the McCormick Road Residence Area; Balz-Dobie, Cauthen, Dunglison and Dunnington houses in the Alderman Road Residence Area; buildings 381, 382, 384 and 386 in Gooch/Dillard; and the residential colleges – Brown, Hereford and International Residential College.

Although a few new students may find themselves assigned to a triple this fall, the number needing to live in a triple will be lower than it was last year when an increased enrollment in the School of Engineering and Applied Science ed to larger-than-expected class of 2015.

– by Virginia E. Carter