WMU News

Fall Welcome acquaints freshmen with WMU, city

Aug. 20, 2005

KALAMAZOO--More than 2,000 freshmen will be roaming downtown Kalamazoo as well as the Western Michigan University campus when WMU holds its annual Fall Welcome Tuesday, Aug. 23, through Saturday, Aug. 27.

A comprehensive five-day orientation program, Fall Welcome takes place just before the start of each new academic year and is open to all incoming students. It supplements the University's one-day summer orientation program by homing in on issues of particular significance to freshmen and providing a fun, informative, interactive and invigorating start to their college careers.

Robert Miller, associate vice president for community outreach, notes that in addition to offering some 40 informational and interest sessions and a variety of speakers, nightly activities and special events, the program helps WMU introduce new students to the city of Kalamazoo.

"We make sure Fall Welcome participants get to experience Kalamazoo's vibrant and exciting downtown," Miller says. "We're proud of what the city has to offer and the many ways WMU and Kalamazoo collaborate to make living here so enjoyable for students."

The 2005 Fall Welcome will showcase Kalamazoo on Friday, Aug. 26, starting with the fourth annual Click Downtown photography contest and scavenger hunt sponsored from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. by Downtown Kalamazoo Inc.

"This is one of our bigger events each year. Our retailers and businesses really look forward to it," says Vicky Kettner, DKI community relations director. "The students all seem to enjoy it, too. It's always at the top of their lists when they evaluate what they like most about Fall Welcome."

For the downtown event, students will be divided into groups and handed disposable cameras, then learn that with the flash of their student IDs, they can hop a Metro Transit bus and travel downtown as well as around the city for free. The groups will spend three hours exploring downtown Kalamazoo while competing in the photography contest and scavenger hunt.

The two activities will provide a backdrop for the students to enjoy the hospitality of numerous stores as well as find out about DKI's student discount program and other benefits of going downtown to shop, eat and be entertained. The excursion will end with a luncheon from 1 to 2 p.m. at the Arcadia Creek Festival site. Edward, a rock and roll band from Kalamazoo, will provide music for the event, which is being sponsored by the Downtown Kalamazoo Restaurant Association; Gordon Food Service; and Bogies Cafe, London Grill, Pasta Pasta, the Union and other down restaurants.

As in past years, Fall Welcome allows participants to move into their residence hall rooms early, this year on Aug. 23--three days before the halls officially open--giving the incoming students extra time to familiarize themselves with WMU's campus and services.

The 2005 program will officially kick off with a convocation at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 23, in Miller Auditorium featuring remarks by WMU President Judith I. Bailey and a WMU Alumni Association-sponsored talk by alumna Kelli Talicska, who won the Miss Michigan title in 2004.

A closing ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 27, in Miller featuring guest speaker Calvin Mackie, a Tulane University faculty member and motivational speaker who received the 2003 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring.

Among the other special events planned are a picnic dinner with family members and senior WMU administrators at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 23 near Miller Auditorium. The picnic will be followed by Stadium Night at Waldo Stadium, where students can take the field for a group picture; meet coaches; and enjoy refreshments, fun competitions, a DJ and a movie.

There also will be a worldwide dance party, along with bungee basketball and a laser tag competition, from 9 to 12 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 25, at the Student Recreation Center. Salsa, hip-hop and international tunes will be featured.

Fall Welcome, formerly known as Bronco Days, is now in its seventh year and has been revamped to dovetail with this year's debut of WMU's First-Year Experience program. FYE is a voluntary program that focuses on strengthening participants' academic performance during their first two semesters, while easing the transition from high school to life and learning in college.

Those who sign up for FYE are assigned to small groups of students that progress together through their first academic year under the guidance of a faculty member. Attending Fall Welcome is required for FYE students and optional for other incoming freshmen.

For more information or a complete schedule of Fall Welcome activities, visit the Web site at www.wmich.edu/fye or contact Doris Ackerman, Fall Welcome coordinator, at (269) 387-3391 or doris.k.ackerman@wmich.edu. More information about downtown Kalamazoo activities also is available by contacting Vicky Kettner at (269) 344-0795 or vkettner@dki.org.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400