A banner across Broad Street. Boisterous cheers in front of the Patrick Center. Helping hands eager to move a mini-fridge.
Welcome to the Presbyterian College community, Blue Hose.
Orientation events for the Class of 2027 began on Aug. 16 with Move-In Day and an inspirational opening session Wednesday afternoon.
Addressing PC’s newest students was the college’s new president, Dr. Anita Gustafson, who called their arrival on campus a “threshold experience” – perfectly echoing a new tradition at PC. Mirroring the processional through Neville Hall onto the West Plaza for commencement each spring, new students processed across the West Plaza and walked as a class through the front doors of Neville Hall for the first time.
“You walk over a threshold when you move from one room to another,” she said. “And, really, that is what you all are doing. You’re moving from one room representing your past, your high school experience, to today moving into your new surroundings, your new room at college – the next stage of your life.”
Gustafson told students they always remember their old experiences and may, in the future, inhabit old rooms. But she challenged them to embrace their new experience – their future at PC.
“The threshold you are crossing is a significant milestone in your journey,” she said. “At PC, you will be challenged and you will be pushed to become your best selves. You will be asked to think deeply about issues, to write persuasively, to learn how to ask questions and to research and find the answers.”
Gustafson said she is confident the Class of ’27 is ready to embrace being “true blue” PC students.
“It’s a mindset – a way of being,” she said. “It’s a lifestyle dedicated to service, innovation, leadership, and radical change. It’s pushing limits and powering through challenges. And you already know how to do that because you’re here. And here you will be part of the community where, together, we can do anything.”
The new Blue Hose were also introduced to two of the most important values at PC – service and honor.
The Rev. Dr. Buz Wilcoxon, PC’s chaplain and dean of spiritual life, taught new students and their parents the college’s motto, “While We Live, We Serve.”
“As a college, that’s our defining statement,” he said. “It’s our identity. Service is who we are at Presbyterian College. It’s baked into our DNA. It’s where we came from, why we were founded, how we thrived throughout the years.”
Wilcoxon said that service projects are part of a long-standing orientation tradition that appropriately introduces new students to the heart of their new college.
“That’s a tradition that goes way, way back at PC,” he said. “It’s powerful that before you set foot in a classroom as a student, before you hear your first lecture, take your first exam, get your first homework assignment, you’ve already served in the community beyond the walls of our campus.
“That’s a big deal at PC. It’s one of the reasons that I came here as a student. And one of the reasons I hope that you will find your place here, not just your place to be welcomed, but your place to serve and to welcome others.”
Math professor Dr. Kara Shavo introduced new students to the importance of PC’s Code of Honor. At other places she’s taught, she said, there were rules against cheating but not serious consequences. On the contrary, honor at PC is taken very seriously and makes a big difference in every relationship on campus.
“Why is an honor code important?” she asked. “Because, in life, trust is important.”
Minus that trust, she said, we question everything – from whether or not a pound of ground beef at the store really weighs a pound or if the professionals we consult cheat to earn their degrees. But trust doesn’t just happen, Shavo said. It must be taught and embraced.
At the college’s Opening Convocation each fall, new students, new faculty, and new staff must sign the Roll of Honor and pledge to act honorably and with integrity. Shavo said the honor code creates an atmosphere of trust and upholds a PC degree’s integrity.
“Being honest means that when someone graduates from PC, they know the things they should know to earn it,” Shavo said. “It means the community can be confident that our graduates have earned what they say they’ve earned.”