Move¡in DayAug. 27, 1998
A record class of freshmen¡armed with computers, study pillows and high SAT scores¡packed into residence halls at Baylor University early Saturday morning, Aug. 22, as Welcome Week for Baylor's newest students officially got under way.
But the stress of moving into a dorm room was lessened considerably for students and their parents because of help from some new friends: like Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr. and his wife, Sue; Dr. Donald Schmeltekopf, provost and vice president for academic affairs; Marilyn Crone, vice president for human resources; Dr. Robert Yinger, dean of the School of Education; and a whole host of faculty members, staff and students. Thanks to this surprising source of help, many freshmen who came in vans and cars loaded down with boxes, closets full of clothes, and television sets, found themselves moved in, in some cases, in a matter of minutes.
For Dr. Sloan, who engagingly played the role of "Dad" at Russell Hall, for most of Saturday morning it was an important part of the Baylor experience.
"This is an emotional moment for a lot of families," Dr. Sloan said. "We want students and families to know that Baylor University is a place that cares for them. It makes a real difference for the entire Baylor family to be here and to help."
It made a real impact on students like Monica Guerra of San Antonio. As the freshman walked across campus with her parents, she was surprised to hear that Baylor's president was among those helping students move in at Russell Hall, a place she would soon call home. "I think it's very nice that he comes out and helps," Guerra said.
Austin freshman Rishi Sriram was amazed to find out who was carrying his "stuff" into his room at Penland Hall¡soon¡to¡be vice president for student life, Dr. Steven Moore. "I think it's so awesome," Sriram said. "I think it shows a lot of humility, and it just really makes them one of us."
Sriram's roommate, Brian Tryhus of Austin, was also impressed by the whole scene. "I think it's incredible," said Tryhus, "that the people highest up at the university are helping the incoming lowest students."
Across Fifth Street at Martin Hall, Crone¡who spent the day as the hall's official "doorstop"¡said she wanted students and parents to know on their first day just how happy Baylor is to have them here. "I wanted them to feel greeted their first moment on campus, and I wanted somebody to be able to direct workers to help pick up their stuff."
Dr. Yinger came to Baylor just a few weeks ago from the University of Cincinnati. The education dean said volunteering to help students move in gave him an opportunity to meet some freshmen and their parents and get a better sense of undergraduate life at Baylor. "It really wasn't part of the tradition at Cincinnati," said Dr. Yinger of Saturday's move¡in. "So I thought it would be great fun to do it here."
Dr. Yinger's welcome, as well as those from other members of the Baylor family, certainly didn't go unnoticed by parents, like Mary Mata of Friendswood, as she moved her son, Jeff, into Martin Hall. "The help is great," Mata said. "And the friendly faces are even better."
"Parents like to feel that their kids are going to be taken care of," Dr. Yinger said. "They like to see the friendliness and the welcome and all the help available. I think it communicates an important message on day one."
Although enrollment numbers will not be official until the 12th class day, this latest group of incoming freshman¡around 2,800¡is a record for Baylor University. But Dr. Sloan is quick to head off questions about sacrificing academic achievement purely to add more students. "The academic quality of this class we think is even slightly better than last year's, which was an outstanding academic class," Dr. Sloan said. "That's not luck. It's the culmination of a lot of hard work by people in student recruiting and financial aid and many other areas of the university."
After taking a short break to talk with reporters covering the move¡in, Dr. Sloan made his way across Fifth Street to Martin Hall where he greeted more members of Baylor's record freshman class.
Austin freshman Eric Durbin watched the president from the grounds outside Penland Hall. His belongings already stored away in his room, Durbin shook his head in amazement. "This is only the first half a day of our college experience," Durbin said. "It's just amazing. God has really blessed us."