The winds have whipped up in the Palouse, adding drama to this week of ceremonies and education rituals. Last month I wrote about firsts. This month is about the annual welcoming events that tie us together as an academic community.
At the college this fall, we welcomed 141 new veterinary students, around the same number of undergraduate students, and 22 graduate students. For veterinary students, we end a week of COLE (Cougar Orientation and Leadership Experience) with an annual White Coat Ceremony when veterinary students receive a white coat symbolizing the start of their journey to become a veterinarian — the floor at Beasley Coliseum feels palpably different when our students transform from their festive student wear to distinctly professional attire. Family and friends cheer. It is a true welcome to our profession.
Our graduate students begin their time here in an orientation that includes peer mentorship, tours, food, and activities to foster community, inclusion, and academic success.
The final annual weekend ritual is the National Lentil Festival in Pullman, which orients our students to the community and our rich agricultural traditions with a parade, vendors, art, games, a fun run, sports tournaments, and possibly the world’s largest bowl of lentil chili.
It is a lot. I just completed my third year as dean of the college. I love that our college is deeply rooted in these traditions and also constantly remaking, updating, and adding innovation and programmatic excellence. Mostly I am incredibly grateful for the faculty, staff, and college leadership that make all of this happen for our students. Too many to name, but I will still acknowledge our counseling and wellness team; our director of diversity, equity and inclusion; our student programs and admissions team; and our program manager for our biomedical sciences graduate program. You guys did it. Thank you.
Welcome to the community, new Cougs! We are delighted you are here.