'Welcome to Stanford' banner across Palm Drive / Photo: L.A. Cicero

Set to move in on Tuesday are the 1,679 members of the Class of 2017 and 28 transfer students. (Photo: L.A. Cicero)

Stanford welcomes Class of 2017 and transfer students

Tuesday is "move-in day" and the first day of New Student Orientation (Sept. 17-22) for freshmen and transfer students. In the late afternoon, President John Hennessy and other campus dignitaries will welcome the new students and their families at the 123rd Opening Convocation Ceremony in the Main Quad.

Once Stanford's newest crop of young scholars – freshmen and transfer students – stow their possessions in their residence halls Tuesday and venture out on campus, they will find welcome mats rolled out in every nook and cranny of the Farm.

Tomorrow marks the first day of New Student Orientation (NSO), six days – and more than 200 events – designed to introduce them to the wide array of academic, intellectual, leadership, cultural and social experiences available at Stanford.

One of the most important goals of the program is to help the new arrivals feel "at home" at Stanford, said Rob Urstein, associate vice provost for undergraduate education, director of Undergraduate Advising and Research and dean of freshmen.

"We are all grateful these students chose to come to Stanford, and we want them to feel that this is their home," he said. "We want them to know that everyone is fully invested in their success and here to support them."

Urstein said Stanford knows students are both excited and anxious, and nervous, even if they don't show it.

"We want students to feel reassured," he said. "Stanford is the place where they will be taking classes, forming new relationships, taking risks and trying new things. Before they can do those things, they need to feel comfortable."

The Class of 2017 includes 1,679 undergraduate students from 49 states – none from Arkansas this year – and 66 countries. Also arriving Tuesday are 28 transfer students, including six military service veterans.

Getting the 'lay of the land' on campus

The NSO program begins Tuesday morning in White Plaza, where students can register their bikes and register to vote, and ends Sunday evening with a screening of Monsters University, a computer-animated comedy film.

In between, events will draw students to various landmarks on the central campus – the Main Quad, the Science and Engineering Quad, Old Union, Memorial Auditorium, Green Library, Meyer Library, Vaden Health Center and Tresidder Union.

For incoming students, it will be a week of meeting new people – roommates, dormmates, academic directors, pre-major advisers, resident fellows and faculty, and even Stanford President John Hennessy, who visits the freshmen residence halls on "move-in day," greeting students and their families.

There will be social gatherings too – swing dancing, a theater and dance showcase, an ice cream social, Festival Latino! and a BBQ. And sports, including football (Stanford vs. Arizona State), men's soccer (Stanford vs. College of Charleston) and women's volleyball (Stanford vs. St. Mary's).

As usual, there will be open houses galore. A new student community center will open its doors this week: The Markaz: Resource Center for Engagement with the Cultures and Peoples of the Muslim World. It is located in the Nitery in Old Union.

Edith Wu-Nguyen, associate dean for new and continuing student programs, said research has shown that students who feel part of a community do better in college.

"New Student Orientation is really about developing relationships," she said. "We want new students to come and get settled in their dorms and meet the people they're going to be living with and those who will be primarily supporting them – that's the most critical. We want our students to feel they are part of our Stanford community – their class community, their residential community and the many other different communities they can join."

Major New Student Orientation events

President John Hennessy will welcome new students and their families and friends on Tuesday afternoon at the 123rd Opening Convocation Ceremony – the formal inauguration of the academic year – from 4 to 5:15 p.m. in the Main Quad courtyard.

The audience also will hear from Harry J. Elam Jr., vice provost for undergraduate education; Richard H. Shaw, dean of undergraduate admission and financial aid; and Jessica Anderson, a senior majoring in African and African American studies who was recently named a 2013 Truman Scholar.

During the week, students will come together for the "Three Books" and "First Lecture" programs.

The authors of the books selected for the Three Books Program – Loung Ung, author of First They Killed My Father; Arlie Russell Hochschild, who wrote The Outsourced Self; and Chad Harbach, who penned The Art of Fielding – will take part in a discussion moderated by Nicholas Jenkins, associate professor of English.

Alexander Nemerov, a noted writer and speaker on the arts who joined the Stanford faculty last year as the Carl and Marilynn Thoma Provostial Professor in the Arts and Humanities, will deliver the "First Lecture," on the purpose of a liberal education.

The new students are also invited to hear faculty talk about their research, the path that led them into academia and working on research projects with undergraduates. Among the 16 talks scheduled this year:

  • "She Does STEM: Women Faculty Talk About Their Work in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math," with Stacey Bent, professor of chemical engineering; Allison Okamura, associate professor of mechanical engineering; and Hannah Valantine, senior associate dean for diversity and leadership in the School of Medicine, and professor of cardiovascular medicine
  • "My Winding Road to Earthquake Country," Eric Dunham, assistant professor of geophysics
  • "Building Smart Machines: Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and the Human Brain," Andrew Ng, associate professor of computer science
  • "Learning in the Real World," Catherine Heaney, associate professor (teaching) of psychology and of medicine
  • "The Power of Story," Jonah Willihnganz, director of the Stanford Storytelling Project and lecturer in the Program in Writing and Rhetoric