New students get a map for campus life

This was not your father’s New Student Orientation (NSO). And the new students gobbled it up.

Crazy and not-so-crazy classes gave them a taste of academic life.

Music, dance, poetry and museum exhibits linked students to the campus’ rich cultural life.

Tours of the neighborhood and Center City oriented the Class of 2004 to the world around them.

These activities were part of seven action-packed orientation days, beginning Aug. 31.

Take the crazy and not-so-crazy classes taught by faculty, staff, grad students and alumni who volunteered and proposed the subjects. The 40-plus proseminars — one-session classes — covered subjects from ethnicity to healthy cooking to lefty politics to where to go in Philadelphia for food, shopping and the gay life. “How to Start Your Own Business” filled so fast a second section was opened. It filled, too. (See “Snapshot.”)

“To increase the students’ readiness for academic mission of the University, this is the first and most important goal,” said Assistant to the Deputy Provost Anita Gelburd, Ph.D., explaining why NSO included proseminars.

Furthering another goal — to introduce students to Philadelphia — freshmen were asked to take the tour of West Philadelphia and one other part of town: uptown Rittenhouse Square; the sweep of Logan Circle and the Art Museum; funky South Street and South Philly; arty Old City; and the commerce and culture represented by the City Hall area.

Part of the culture of Philadelphia happens right here on campus, and the organizers of this year’s NSO wanted to introduce students to what’s special that’s in walking distance. So orientation this year also included an evening of cultural events Sept. 7 that showed off theaters, galleries and museums, and campus groups that attract people to campus from the city, suburbs and beyond. Rock ’n’ roll, jazz and hip photos were part of the mix.

Other goals? “To build community through the College Houses and to decompress the schedule,” said Provost Bob Barchi.

This year’s NSO planning was a joint effort of the undergraduate schools, the New Student Orientation Office under the Vice Provost for University Life and the Provost’s Office.


Originally published on September 14, 2000