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Strongest incoming class in years will hone “intellectual self-reliance” at JU, freshmen told

When it comes to this year’s Matriculation, it’s not just the academic year and the incoming class that are new at Jacksonville University for 2014-15. So are many facilities. And laboratories, equipment and academic programs. And the Provost.

JUmatriculation2014Upper-classmates, alumni, faculty and administrators welcomed freshmen at the celebration Friday, Aug. 22, under the oak canopy on Dolphin Green (formerly the Science Green). In all, more than 900 students are new to campus this year.

“To our parents: we take the responsibility of educating your children solemnly,” said JU President Tim Cost. “To our faculty: you have turned out in the highest numbers to our Matriculation that any of us can remember. Thank you for your leadership. And to our new students: we are so proud of this incoming class, which brings with it some of the highest accomplishments and GPAs in many years. We encourage you to engage in all that Jacksonville University has to offer.”

In addition to one of the strongest entering freshman classes in many years, 2014-15 brings a new College of Health Sciences building, to be dedicated Sept. 4; new labs and equipment in four of the campus’ science buildings; a new deck off the Riverview Café with a spectacular view to Sessions baseball stadium; a new Doctor of Business Administration, the University’s second doctorate; a new Masters of Science in Speech-Language Pathology; and many other improvements and programs.

JU Provost/Chief Academic Officer Dr. Wenying Xu

It also brings Dr. Wenying Xu.

The new Provost/Chief Academic Officer, who has more than three decades’ academic experience and began her new job in July after serving as vice president for academic affairs at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, gave a stirring speech, urging the students to be “independent in your judgment, critical in your analysis and innovative in developing solutions. We work to help you develop these skills here at Jacksonville University, and we hope you’ll retain them for life.”

Dr. Xu pointed out that the incoming students come from 34 states and 13 countries, applauding the student body’s diversity of geography, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic and religious backgrounds.

“Here, you will learn from your fellow students, exchange stories, and hear perspectives you otherwise never could,” she said.

JUmatriculation2014 4In addition, “One of the most distinctive aspects of the JU experience is the opportunity to engage fully with your professors. Unlike your peers at many universities, you will actually get to know your professors from day one. Many of you will, as undergraduates, be involved in the research of the faculty. Besides their passion for teaching, our faculty members are life-long learners engaged in their creativity, research and scholarship, and they bring that excitement into the classroom. They will expect you to challenge them just as much as they challenge you.Here, we don’t tell students what to think. Instead, our teaching is designed to produce intellectual self-reliance — to teach you how to learn and how to take charge of your own education.”

Jacksonville University Student Alliance President Keith Taylor Jr. kept with the theme of engagement and exploration, drawing laughs at one point with a rallying cry of, “If it’s foreign and uncomfortable — and legal — do it!”

He closed his remarks by directing the students to look to their left and to their right.

“Get the phone number of those next to you,” he said. “Challenge them to be back here in 2018. Be accountable. To the JU Class of 2018: Welcome home.”