August 30, 2000
More than 600 parents of new students rose to their feet offering a standing ovation to Oklahoma Baptist University's Welcome Week student steering committee during the "new" parent orientation, Saturday, August 19.
Hundreds of faculty, staff, and Welcome Week Workers, OBU student orientation volunteers, earlier that day aided in the move-in of every new student - hauling boxes, loads of clothes, loft beds, sound systems, books and countless other items into the dormitories.
"I think the parents were enthusiastic to show their thanks for the support their kids had gotten but more importantly, the support they perceived their kids were going to get in the future," said Todd Ream, OBU dean of students.
"The parents sense that their children have become part of a larger family, although they are leaving their own family," Ream said. "Just carrying a few boxes for someone won't get that kind of reaction, but the parents knew that they were leaving their children in good hands."
The most significant part of that new family is the faculty, says Ream.
"The students should very much feel welcome and supported after this week," he said. "Now it is the time when faculty add their support. The Welcome Week Workers turn it over to the faculty and they take it and run with it."
This marks the first year that faculty have been invited to take a definite role with each welcome week group. Each faculty member was asked to eat a meal with one of the eighty freshman groups during the orientation week time.
Faculty joined the groups in the cafeteria, local restaurants or invited them into their homes.
"We have had some feedback from students and faculty that the intimidation level decreased when freshman spent time with faculty before they even started classes," Mullins said. "We had heard in the past that some students went to their first day of class without having ever met any faculty. We hope this creates a better environment."
Mullins said she had already seen more faculty at move-in day, the picnic, and the ice cream social.
"Students seem really excited about the faculty interaction," Mullins said. "The upperclassmen are especially excited because they know how valuable it is. The faculty are really trying to get more involved."
Ream believes that the student's excitement about more faculty involvement is not unusual.
"There is a certain sense of morale that only the faculty can provide," he said. "At OBU, we are in a good position on our campus to offer not only well-educated but well-meaning faculty that want to be involved in their students' lives."
And that is what a student's welcome week experience is all about, Ream said.
"Students come to the campus because of the faculty," he said. "It's the most important resource that students have. It's the reason students come but it's also the reason students stay."