DECATUR, Ill. – On the Sunday evening before the Fall Semester of the 2023-24 academic year began at Millikin University, there was a night of reflection and excitement as the 2023 Convocation ceremony brought an end to the activities of New Student Welcome Week.
A group of speakers, including Assistant Professor in the School of Music and the Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship Dr. David Cook, Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Student Development Dr. Wallace Southerland and the Student Representative to the Board of Trustees Joshua Higgins, brought important ideas and messages to the group of more than 350 first-year and transfer students who would be beginning their studies Monday morning.
President Jim Reynolds began the evening with a welcome to the students and brought several international students to the stage, representing the diverse group of students from more than 30 countries studying at Millikin this year.
“I am really glad to see all of you tonight as we begin a new academic year at Millikin University and start the creation of a new campus community made rich by the continued contribution from our returning students, faculty and staff and made whole by welcoming you, the new students into the Millikin family,” President Reynolds said. “Tonight, we are proud and very excited to have you become a part of the history of this wonderful institution.”
Like the students in attendance, Dr. Southerland is beginning his Millikin experience after becoming the head of Student Affairs on July 1 and he was just as excited for his first Convocation.
“I am new to Millikin and so I guess that makes me a first-year student too, so we are in this together. As the Vice President of Student Affairs, I have the best job on campus because I get to work with students,” Dr. Sutherland said. “On behalf of the distinguished student affairs staff, it is my pleasure and very distinct honor to welcome you to our mighty Millikin family as you engage in the Millikin experience.”
Here’s a look back at the whirlwind of activities that made up New Student Welcome Week 2023:
Events kicked off with students moving into the dorms on Tuesday. Groups of Millikin student-athletes, including the Big Blue football team, Greek Life students and Student Experience Ambassadors, were out in force to lend a hand and carry a suitcase or microwave inside for the new arrivals.
On Wednesday, the new arrivals got to know each other a little better with a Playfair Outdoor Team Building activity out on the Quad in the morning and a Student Involvement Fair in the evening that showed the many extracurricular activities at Millikin.
On Thursday, the first-year students prepared to roll up their sleeves and get a little dirty as they took part in the ADM/Millikin Day of Service, which brought Millikin students out into the Decatur community to do acts of community service. Students took part in a multitude of activities, including planting trees, organizing food and clothing donations at food shelters, and roadside cleanup. A generous grant from the ADM Cares charitable organization made this year's event possible.
As the weekend approached, the students got to let loose Friday evening on the Quad with an exciting night that included a foam party, tye dying, sand volleyball and some tasty snacks.
Under the stars on Saturday night, the first-year students experienced the Candlelight Ceremony on the Quad. This yearly tradition is a moment of contemplation about the journey they will soon be starting.
Before the Convocation ceremony in the evening, the group braved hot temperatures and a noon-time sun to create another memory they will never forget as they had their class photo taken in the shape of a Millikin “M” on the Quad.
It was a week of starting friendships, making memories, and preparing for their first steps of their Millikin experience.