The Pioneer Chapel was filled to capacity Saturday, August 20th, when Wabash College President Patrick White warmly welcomed 295 new students in the Class of 2015. The President kept with long-standing tradition by using the same bell Caleb Mills used to call the very first Wabash men to class.
Asking the freshmen to stand in the Chapel balcony, President White said, “If you are ready to take up this challenge, to take on the responsibility embedded in your dreams, to take on the care for your own lives and that of your brothers and all the men and women of Wabash, to set as your goal the wise, virtuous, and generous life embodied in the Gentleman’s Rule and the Wabash mission… stand with pride so that I might continue the tradition that harks back to the first professor of Wabash College, Caleb Mills, and using his bell, ring you into the Company of Wabash Men.”
It was a festive Saturday on the Wabash campus when the freshmen began to arrive for registration at the Allen Center. The Admissions counselors who had recruited the young men from 23 states and five foreign countries were there to welcome them and get them started on their journey as Wabash men.
At the Ringing In Ceremony, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Steve Klein continued his own tradition of anonymously introducing members of the Class of 2015 by their accomplishments from — profound to quirky. Among the freshmen are a four-time cancer survivor, a national champion weightlifter, a novelist with two 50,000-word books to his credit, a professional cellist, a horse trainer, a bee keeper, a cartoonist, a sailboat builder, a mountain climber, and a Civil War re-enactor.
“You are a talented, enterprising, creative, brave, and caring class,” said Dean Klein. “Your community service commitments total thousands of hours… You have enriched the lives of disadvantaged children, the elderly, the sick, and the poor. You have coached, mentored, and tutored youth and adults in inspiring ways. Many of you have traveled thousands of miles from home to help the less fortunate, in the US and overseas through mission work. Beyond our borders, your humanitarian efforts have taken you to Ireland, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Australia.”
The class includes 54 men who were officers in student government, 37 who served as delegates to Boys State, 41 who were actors in high school and community theaters, and 18 Eagle Scouts.
Fifty-one members of the Class of 2015 are related to other Wabash men, including 17 men whose fathers attended Wabash and another 23 who have brothers who are either attending Wabash or have graduated from the College. “As strong as family ties can be, I know all of you had options,” Dean Klein said. “You will undoubtedly define Wabash College on your own terms as you further a family tradition.”
Greg Castanias, President of the National Association of Wabash Men and a 1987 graduate, provided the official welcome from the College’s 13,000-member alumni body.
“This is a small college; you already knew that,” said Castanias, who is a partner at the Washington, D.C law firm Jones Day. “But let me put those numbers in some perspective. As we sit here, Indiana University’s Bloomington campus is preparing to welcome approximately 7,500 freshmen. That campus itself presently holds over 32,000 undergraduates (and another 10,000 or so graduate students). In other words, there are more undergraduates at IU right now than there have been Wabash men. Ever. You are an elite bunch, and you always will be. Remember that as you go through your four years here, and your life after Wabash.”
Castanias focused his remarks on Wabash’s traditions — some of its oldest and some that have come and gone since the College’s founding in 1832.
“Today, you embark on what I am confident will be an amazing journey, at a College with a rich history and a vibrant culture,” Castanias said. “Today, you start the process of figuring out where you fit in to the story of Wabash College, and how you are going to carry on its traditions, alter its traditions, or create new traditions… The road before you is open wide with options and opportunities. Wabash, and her alumni, will be with you all the way, just as they have been with me — and generations of men before me.”