Event marks beginning for new students

Steph Yiu

It was a ceremony of welcomes.

Welcomes for the 1,967 freshmen, welcomes for the transfer students and welcomes for the more than 100 visiting students from Gulf Coast universities.

This year’s President’s Convocation was tempered by the impact of Hurricane Katrina. University President Henry Bienen greeted the visitors, saying that “in this time of difficulty – when our social needs are great, it is a privilege to come together as a university and grow.”

Shortly before Bienen’s speech, William Banis, the vice president for student affairs, identified characteristics among the new class. Of the freshmen, 120 were high school valedictorians; 24 percent have family members who are Northwestern alumni; 52 percent are women and 50 percent come from either Illinois, California, New York, Ohio or Texas.

The freshman class also includes students from all 50 states. Of the 37 countries also represented, the three most prominent are South Korea, India and Hong Kong. The oldest freshman is 30 years old. The youngest is 15.

Philosophy Prof. Kenneth Seeskin delivered this year’s keynote speech, titled “In the Beginning-“

“Today, as I see it, is the origin,” Seeskin said. “The radical origin of your college career. – Right now.”

Weinberg freshman Caitlin Sims said she left the ceremony with a feeling of anticipation.

“It’s such a weird thought – that we’re just starting now,” she said. “Today is just the beginning of everything different.”

Reach Steph Yiu at [email protected]