From listening to the Ohio State Marching Band perform to getting a crash-course in what life in Columbus is all about, the freshman class was officially welcomed to the university Monday.
Students attended Convocation at St. John Arena and then were shuttled by OSU to the third-annual Columbus Welcome event at Nationwide Arena.
They heard speeches from some OSU officials during Convocation, like President Michael Drake and Executive Vice President and Provost Joseph Steinmetz. During the Columbus Welcome event, students were told about how Ohio’s capital city could benefit them during college and in life after graduation.
There were several changes to this year’s program, OSU spokesman Gary Lewis said in an email.
“We worked to become more involved with arts organizations,” Lewis said. “Columbus has a very vibrant arts community, and we want Ohio State students to be exposed to the various venues and opportunities that the area has to offer.”
Convocation cost $42,000, which was about the same as last year, Lewis said.
The cost of this year’s Columbus Welcome event was not known as of Monday afternoon, OSU spokeswoman Amy Murray said.
As part of the festivities, the OSU Marching Band performed school songs at Convocation to welcome freshmen.
Drake talked about the importance of each incoming student in his Convocation speech.
“This is a great university because of what you bring to us,” Drake said. “One of the things that has made Columbus such a vibrant part of the United States, the 15th largest city in the country and one of the cities that is really growing, has been the presence of the Ohio State University and all that you contribute to life here in the city.”
Undergraduate Student Government President Celia Wright, a fourth-year in public health, challenged students at Convocation to commit to their best academic efforts at OSU.
“Challenge yourself today to deliberately work toward what will make you proud the next time you are all together, at commencement,” Wright said.
Past years’ Columbus Welcome events have been received well and are generally considered successful, Lewis said.
“Based on surveys conducted after last year’s event, nearly 90 percent of those attending said they would be more likely to explore Columbus after attending the event,” Lewis said. “Three-fourths of the students said they feel at home in Columbus because of the event, and two-thirds feel like a member of the broader Columbus community, all because of the Columbus Welcome event.”
Abigail Fuhrmann, a first-year in education-science and mathematics, said the Columbus Welcome event made her want to explore Columbus.
“This was such an eye-opening experience,” Fuhrmann said. “Honestly, beforehand, I was kind of timid about the whole thing because Columbus can be kind of scary at first. I’m well aware now of all the opportunities and I’m excited to get out there and see all the possibilities.”
Fuhrmann said she enjoyed the program’s exciting energy.
“The music was great, and the upbeat nature of it has me ready to explore Columbus and have a great first year as a Buckeye,” she said.
Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, Drake, Columbus Crew team members, the Columbus Blue Jackets mascot, Stinger, OSU men’s basketball team members and advertising professional and OSU alumna Nancy Kramer all spoke at the event. Videos of Gov. John Kasich and OSU benefactor Les Wexner were shown as well.
“Ohio State University is where we train you, and Columbus is where we retain you,” Coleman told students. “Once you graduate from the Ohio State University, we expect you to stay right here in the city of Columbus. We want you to start your own business, raise a family and buy a house. We want you to be a part of the city of Columbus.”
Kramer echoed some of Coleman’s points by saying Columbus is great place to live after graduating from OSU.
“It was always great to come back to Columbus because it felt like that is where the world really was,” Kramer said. “Columbus is smart, it is open, and I am a living example that if you can dream it, you can do it right here in Columbus. No doubt.”
Kramer is a Columbus-based advertising executive who was named one of the 100 most influential women in advertising by Advertising Age in 2012.
Nicole Kuchenbuch, a first-year in education, said she thought it was important to attend the event.
“I would definitely recommend the Columbus Welcome to incoming students,” Kuchenbuch said. “They give you a lot of information that, if you miss, you will have no idea of what all there is to do in Columbus.“