Excitement as freshmen move into next chapter of life at Marietta College
MARIETTA — August sunshine poured onto the green campus of Marietta College on Friday as new students lined up under the arched portico of the Hermann Fine Arts Center to get identifications, settle paperwork and get their dorm assignments.
Therapy dogs barked, and upperclassmen and college staff carried boxes and totes to help the freshmen move in.
Marie and Ron Taylor stood waiting as their daughter Kaitlyn Madz lined up for the process.
Marie, from Woodsfield, said she was happy about the placement.
“She’ll be close to home, and the campus feels safe,” she said. “They really pay attention and take care of their students here.”
Kaitlyn was assigned to Dorothy Webster Hall — all freshmen are required by the college to live on campus.
“It’s close to home, but just far enough way,” she said after completing the paperwork and check-in. “I’m looking forward to making new friends, being on my own.”
She intends to study education.
“I like the idea of being a teacher, they do a lot more than people realize,” she said. “They teach everyone. People talk about being, for instance, doctors and nurses, but someone teaches them how to do that.”
Josh Mudgett of Zanesville came to Marietta College for the sports management program.
“I’ve been here for a couple of days, and I’m feeling the excitement,” he said, walking away from being photographed for identification. “I really like the soccer coaches here.”
Abby Ketcham stood in line surrounded by younger siblings and cousins. A Marietta High School grad, she’s a double legacy — both her parents went to Marietta College — and will study middle school teaching and special education.
“My grandmother, my aunt and my mother are teachers, so I guess it runs in the family,” she said. “It was a natural for me to pick Marietta College. It’s a beautiful campus and a beautiful town, and they have a great education program here.
“I feel a calling for working with kids, for mentoring them,” she said, watching her younger relatives scamper and laugh with each other. “And I’m really looking forward to playing tennis, the coaches are great, I love the sport and I can’t wait for my parents to watch me play matches here.”
She said she met her roommate months ago, connecting on Facebook.
“We’ve got everything planned for the room,” she said. “My dad’s even going to help us move a couch into it.”
Michael Gerard walked with his family toward his dorm assignment at Russell Hall. A graduate of Caldwell High School, he enrolled in the Petroleum Engineering program.
“I like Marietta,” he said. “It’s nice by the river, everything is close, it’s easy to meet people.”
He’s the first in his family to attend college.
“This is a really good school,” said his mother, Grace Gerard. “This has been a new experience for us, and they’ve been helpful, they’ve made it easy for us.”
His father, Tim Gerard, added, “The process has been easy, they’ve been very informative.”
Michael might be the first but not the last to attend college in the family. His sister, Destinee, a junior at Caldwell High School, is eyeing her opportunities now.
“I want to become a doctor or a veterinarian,” she said.
Tom Perry, the college’s brand management and marketing vice president, said new enrollment is coming in at about 400 students, including freshmen and transferring upperclassmen. The 2019-20 freshman class is about 366 students, although the numbers won’t be firm for another three weeks, he said.
That’s slightly above last year, and for the third year is on track to meet the college’s goals for enrollment. Ultimately, in the medium term, he said, the college wants to see a total enrollment at all levels from freshman through graduate studies between 1,200 and 1,400.
“We’ve got a solid 1,100 this year,” he said.
The enrollment growth is part of a strategy begun three years ago under the fresh leadership of college president William Ruud, he said.
“As the new president, with the energy he brought to the position, his top priority was enrollment growth,” Perry said. “We did a complete revamp of branding and marketing, and we’ve applied a much more personal touch to admissions, with more consistent communications.”
New programs have boosted enrollment as well, he said.
“We’ve got five new majors this year, such as a masters in clinical health, entrepreneurship is now its own major, and we have a major available in neurosciences,” Perry said. “These aren’t just what the market is asking for, these are studies that have high career potential.”
Athletic programs also are an increasing draw, he said.
“We started lacrosse, and over 30 students are here for that alone. We recruited 10 students from Maryland, for example, and nearly all of them are here for lacrosse,” he said.
Perry said about 75 staff members and more than 50 students turned out to help the new arrivals settle in on Friday.
“Pretty much every department was represented during the day,” he said. “I don’t want to sound trite, but we really put an emphasis on family atmosphere, we treat everybody that way, and it’s really taken off, everybody on the campus buys into it. We really appreciate the new arrivals and their families being here, we know what a commitment it is for them.”
Michael Kelly can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
2019-2020 Marietta College enrollment, unofficial
* 400 new students, 366 freshmen, remainder are transfers.
* Enrollment now about 1,100.
* Third consecutive year of increase in new students.
Source: Marietta College