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President Roberta J. Cordano, beginning her first full academic year at Gallaudet, opened the 2016 New Student Orientation’s University Welcome to a packed, enthusiastic audience at Elstad Auditorium on August 25, 2016. Among the audience were over 350 new students, including 24 international students representing five countries.

Cordano’s speech, which was often interactive with students, focused on their importance to the campus community, the need for peace in light of the recent violence occurring both nationally and worldwide, and the bilingual mission of Gallaudet. While stressing the importance of written English, Cordano emphasized the value of sign language.

“Here, we are committed to learning through our eyes, using sign language,” said Cordano.

Provost Carol J. Erting followed Cordano with her welcome to the new students before introducing Dr. Beth Benedict, executive director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach, and Dr. Gaurav Mathur, dean of the Graduate School and Continuing Studies.

Speaking on behalf of the Admissions staff, Benedict said to the new students, “Today is a bittersweet day for us. They were connected to you and brought you to campus. Now is the time to let you flourish.” The highlight of Benedict’s speech was the presentation of demographics regarding this year’s newly admitted students, which included the following:

• Over 350 students committed to start during the fall semester, compared to 278 students from last year.
• Of this year’s students, 31 percent are transfer students, 35 percent come from deaf schools, 34 percent come from mainstream schools, and 95 percent are American students; this year’s international students come from five countries representing three continents.

• This year’s students come from 43 states and the District of Columbia; top five states are California (34), Texas (32), Maryland (31), Virginia (29) and New York (28).

• Over 60 percent are scholarship students.
• The average GPA is 3.1., up from last year’s 2.9 average.

Dr. Carrie Solomon, Faculty Senate chair, led the students in an oath stressing academic excellence, academic integrity, and love of learning. Trevor Anderson, Student Body Government president, and David Poland, Graduate Student Association president, also provided welcoming remarks.

Prior to the University Welcome speech, Cordano and Gally the Bison led the new students to Elstad during the Bison Walk along Lincoln Circle, which was aligned by campus community members celebrating their arrival to Gallaudet.

New Student Orientation, which began Wednesday, August 24, continues until Saturday, August 27.

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