Caldwell, N.J., Aug. 27, 2019 – Caldwell University welcomed the class of 2023 at its New Student Convocation on Monday, August 26, 2019.
Barbara Chesler, Ph.D., vice president for academic affairs, opened the ceremony, saying it was the 80th year of Caldwell University, “a joyous time” to celebrate the rich history and look forward to the future with new students.
Over 500 incoming students including 450 freshmen, representing 13 states and 14 countries, are beginning their university careers at Caldwell this semester. The university had a record-breaking number of applications at 4,801 and its highest number of acceptances at 3,326. Caldwell continues to enroll a diverse population of students with 67% of the incoming freshmen identifying as students of color.
At convocation, President Nancy H. Blattner recognized the students who had made the dean’s list for the fall and spring semesters of 2018-19 and were receiving special pins. She urged the incoming students to see the dean’s list students as role models and to make it a goal to be where they are next year.
Blattner encouraged the new students to learn about Caldwell’s rich history and its commitment to the Dominican pillars of prayer, service, community and study. Whether a resident or commuter student, “participate fully as a community member at Caldwell,” she said. “We care about you and are excited that you are becoming a part of the Caldwell University community.” Pointing out that one of the pillars is service, Blattner said she was asking each student to participate in one service activity during their university careers. “I hope you do more,” she said explaining that the university offers many opportunities for volunteerism locally and internationally. “Part of our mission is to graduate students who contribute to a just society,” she said.
Sister Kathleen Tuite, O.P., vice president for student life, described the Caldwell University seal on the pendant that was given to each new student. The red symbolizes the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the gold, His kingship, said Sister. Inscribed in the seal is the university’s motto, “Sapientia et Scientia,” which means wisdom and knowledge and is derived from the Litany of the Sacred Heart. The golden sun represents St. Thomas Aquinas, the patron saint of Catholic Schools. This coat of arms, said Sister Kathleen, is a reminder to the students to be involved and to be leaders in today’s world. “Wear your pendant proudly.”
Orges Rrapaj ’21, president of the Student Government Association, led the new students in a pledge affirming their support and commitment to the Catholic Dominican education of Caldwell University. “Today you are accepting an incredible opportunity to begin this new chapter at Caldwell University,” he said. “Make this journey everything you want it to be; be willing to move out of your comfort zone and take whatever Caldwell has to offer.”
The class of 2023 prayer was led by Michael Angelos ’23. Campus Ministry Director Colleen O’Brien gave the invocation and Sister Joanne Beirne, O.P., delivered the blessing. The processional music was provided by the university’s drumline directed by university music faculty member Rebecca Vega and alumnus John Piopol.
Other Welcome Weekend activities included information sessions, a barbeque hosted at President Blattner’s home, a trip to Great Adventure and opportunities to learn about the Dominican mission and meet with the Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell.
Prior to the weekend, Campus Ministry offered its FIRST (Freshmen Immersion into Reflection Service and Tradition) program to incoming freshmen. Over the course of three days, 16 freshmen and five upper-class leaders had the chance to meet and have dinner with the Sisters of Saint Dominic and with President Blattner and to build community with each other before starting the semester. They did community service with First Friends of NJ/NY, the Caldwell Environmental Commission and the Op Shop at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Roseland, New Jersey.