Incoming first-years present challenges, opportunity for creativity

By Allison Tinsey, Editor-in-Chief

Pictured above are representatives from the different holding the flags of their respective countries during the Convocation procession of international flags. To the right, first year students walk through lines of faculty and staff as they are formally welcomed to the College.

Convocation 2013 (Photos by Jeff Palmer)

On Wednesday, September 11, 2013, 455 first-years matriculated into Kalamazoo College as the largest class the College has seen in many years. The pressure of preserving the K experience was felt as the phenomenon known as the “summer melt” yielded less students than usual.

Associate Dean of Students Dana Jansma said, “It says awesome things about K because admissions didn’t change standards, just more of the [admitted students] chose K.”

The Office of Residential Life was set with the task of accommodating the large number of students. Sixty-two juniors were allowed to live off-campus this year, additional beds were ordered, and students were strategically matched with roommates by hand as they always are.

“We were very attentive to creating the best matches possible…because there is not a lot of wiggle room to make changes,” Jansma continued, “We want people to feel like they have comfortable spaces.”

Ted Witryk and the Registrar Office worked with the provost to make sure that K provided enough classes without compromising small class sizes across all academic interests.

“We took the opportunity to increase the number of courses and faculty instead of just shoving more students into pre-existing classes. We’ve opened the opportunity to do things that the College has not done before,” Witryk said. The registrar plans to continue to work on improving scheduling for labs so that the space and time may be utilized more effectively.

Dean of the First-Year and of Advising Zaide Pixley, who coordinates the First-Year Experience program, said, “[We asked] what classes do we need?…and looking to next quarter and seeing what current students need, including seniors.”

Dean Pixley also cited that after the initial shock of the size of the Class of 2017 dies down the College will be “hyper vigilant” of the ways it accommodates all current students. “It gives us the opportunity to be creative and solve unscripted problems,” stated Dean Pixley.