University leaders welcome incoming students

By Joshua Qualls

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Every year during the end of August, a mass migration to Lexington, Ky., occurs. With more than 6,000 students invading UK’s dormitory halls to prepare for the fall 2015 semester, this year is no exception.

FastTrack students, sorority recruiters and members of the marching band made their way onto campus Aug. 15. By the end of Wednesday, students in the Living Learning Program had also claimed their space and about two-thirds of the on-campus population had moved in.

Freshman Move-in Day was Friday, a clear sign the semester was about to begin. The remaining students, including freshmen overflow, returners, transfers and people who had not arrived as originally scheduled, were expected to arrive by Saturday afternoon.

With an incoming freshman class of more than 5,000 students, UK recently reached a student population of more than 30,000.

For Sam Arnold, an undeclared freshman from Lexington, being at such a large school is a big change in pace, but he’s looking forward to it.

“I’m really excited — you know, I came from a really small school and graduated with a class of just over 100, so coming to a school with this many people is pretty exciting,” Arnold said.

Moving usually causes more anxiety than anything else, but students also expressed excitement and shared moments of reflection with their families as they unloaded minivans and stacked their belongings on folding tables.

Gregory Hurlbrink, an incoming business freshman from Baltimore, said that he was “excited to start a new journey.”

Hurlbrink’s mother, Lauren, said she and her husband were going to miss him, but they were excited for Gregory because they “think it’s a great school and that he is going to have a great time — a great experience.”

Adam Shelton, a sophomore business management major, was housed in Blanding last year and is now in Woodland Glen I.

“It’s nice — it’s a different experience,” Shelton said. “It’s definitely a big, big step up.”

UK’s Interim Associate Vice President for Auxiliary Services, Sarah Nikirk, said they started to plan for the students’ move onto campus about six months ago.

“The cones, the barricades and the signs — all of that is planned out months in advance,” Nikirk said. “Everyone comes together to make sure that the move-in process works really smooth.”

UK President Eli Capilouto and his wife Mary Capilouto showed up at the Kirwin-Blanding Complex on Friday morning to greet new students and their families, and Executive Vice President of Finance and Administration Eric Monday worked at the information and carts booth at Woodland Glen.

“With these new residence halls we’ve been able to expand our Living Learning programs,” Capilouto said. “These are the ways to connect students to each other, to faculty, to staff, to future employers — so we now have the space that allows us to deliver that kind of experience. That’s the big difference.”

The Living Learning Program is designed to bring elements of UK’s academic curriculum to residence halls across campus. In the past, freshmen in the program produced higher GPAs than non-LLP students.

Aside from academics, and despite all the new construction on campus, Capilouto said students could expect traffic to flow a little better around campus in the coming school year.

“After working nearly 24/7, we were able to open Alumni Drive,” Capilouto said. “So that eases the traffic coming in campus, and eases it going through campus.”

As far as Move-in Day itself goes, Capilouto couldn’t have been more pleased.

“I tell all these folks who are coming from all over the country — 79 degrees and sunny, just another average day in Kentucky,” President Capilouto said with a smile.