Are you ready?

It was Friday, August 7, and I’d just returned from a meeting in the Student Union. As I walked into the atrium, I was greeted with a sound I hadn’t heard for several months – voices! Although we were far from having all students back on campus, they were definitely returning and making an impact. It was great to hear their voices again, bringing life to the Student Union and across the entire campus. Parking was getting tighter at the Colvin Recreation Center – that’s great! Lines were longer at restaurants – hallelujah! The traffic gates on Monroe were coming down – oh well.

I heard an OSU administrator say that one of the most distinctive things about OSU is that we consider hospitality and respect for everyone to be a hallmark of our land grant mission. As we embark on another academic year full of promise and opportunity, I think it’s important to commend and remind us all of this unique aspect of OSU culture – we’re friendly, we appreciate people from diverse backgrounds and we’re here to serve. That makes a huge difference when prospective students and their parents are visiting, and an even bigger difference when those new students arrive on campus, ready to commence with their collegiate career.

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And we have a lot of new folks to welcome. This is shaping up to be an extraordinary year for us. The College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources will host its largest freshman class with more than 500 students. Overall enrollment is up by 3 percent (undergraduate and graduate students combined).

The first group of agribusiness students from China will join us on campus beginning this fall. The students are part of a joint academic program between OSU and China Agricultural University. I met the students at a transfer ceremony in Beijing this June, and in my comments, I made a point of telling them how welcoming folks are at OSU. I told them they will find themselves at home very quickly in our hometown culture.

Another highlight of the year is that we recently announced the release of our newest wheat variety, Bentley, in advance of the fall planting season. A hard red winter wheat featuring excellent resistance to drought and late winter freezes, Bentley is named after Walter Dimmitt Bentley, a former educator turned farmer who was the first director of the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service from 1914 to 1916 and assistant director from 1917 to 1930.

Finally, numerous faculty and staff recently have been honored in their respective areas of expertise and return to campus eager to share their knowledge and expand their research as the school year gets underway.

Now…are you ready to embrace new opportunities while creatively navigating any challenges that come your way? I am and I hope you are, too. Welcome back and go Pokes!