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Updated 9:30 AM September 8, 2009

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Coleman encourages new students to soak up all they can

President Mary Sue Coleman encouraged new students to "bring initiative, innovation, and a dose of skepticism" to their experiences at the university, in her message Thursday during New Student Convocation. Coleman also told members of the Class of 2013 to make connections with faculty and students alike, and advised them to "explore where a Michigan education might take you."
President Mary Sue Coleman, welcomed the Class of 2013 to "one of the greatest academic communities in the world. We value learning, collaborating and contributing, with students at the center of it all." Below, members of MUSKET, above, the university's student-run musical theater group, perform during New Student Convocation. (Photos By Scott Galvin, U-M Photo Services)

As an example of what is possible, the president told the story of several students who launched an iPhone app they developed as part of an engineering course. The free app is called DoGood, and its concept is basic: Encourage people to do one nice act each day.

Since its launch in June, nearly 100,000 people have downloaded the program.

"The DoGood story is characteristic of what students experience at Michigan," Coleman told the crowd that gathered at Crisler Arena. "A professor inspires them. Classmates collaborate with them. The potential of technology and innovation intrigues them. And it is the prospect of making a difference — making a difference in people's lives — that genuinely drives them to succeed."

This year's class of 6,000 freshmen was culled from a record number of almost 30,000 applications, said Ted Spencer, associate vice provost and executive director of Undergraduate Admissions.

"I can say without hesitation that this year's class is more actively engaged and academically well-qualified than any other class in the history of the university," Spencer said. "Your many achievements are exceptional in both your academic and extra curricular endeavors, and I am confident you will contribute to the vitality of our campus community."

Teresa Sullivan, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and also professor of sociology, told the crowd she asked her students for advice to pass along to the new freshman class.

Suggestions included taking advantage of the vast resources available on campus, getting to know class advisors and professors, exploring student organizations, and discovering the many U-M libraries and museums.

"Since its founding in 1817, the university has developed rigorous programs of study, invested in excellent faculty, and built state of the art classrooms, laboratories, studios, libraries and museums," Sullivan said. "As you begin your time here, I encourage you to take the advice of students who have preceded you. Seize the opportunities available here, explore widely, dig deeply into areas that interest you, develop friendships that will sustain you."

The Class of 2013 includes students from more than 1,800 different high schools, all 50 states and almost 70 countries.

"I am proud to also say, that this year's class is once again very diverse — adding to our rich and vibrant campus community with strong representation from every racial, ethnic, social and religious background, Spencer said.

Some statistics about the Class of 2013:
• 43 percent were elected to one or more student government offices;
• More than one-third received all-city, all-league, all-county or all-state awards in athletics;
• 65 percent played a musical instrument;
• More than half have volunteered in community health programs, such as in a hospital, clinic or home;
• 35 percent have published poems, stories, essays and articles or have worked as high school newspaper or yearbook editors; and
• One in 10 has started his or her own businesses.

Among the notable achievements for the incoming class 295 achieved perfect scores of 36 on the ACT, the average high school grade-point average is 3.8 and approximately 1,500 members achieved a perfect 4.0, Spencer said.

"We heard your voice in your essays, when you wrote about your families, the economy, the presidential election, overcoming obstacles, your concern for the environment, and a sincere desire to give back to the community," Spencer said. "You also wrote about how and why diversity was an important factor in your final college choice — confirming that your values resonate with our campus values."

Coleman told the students the experience that awaits them is not typical.

"From the classrooms and laboratories, to the libraries, museums and Michigan Stadium, the University of Michigan will be unlike any environment you have known," she said.

"You are now members of one of the greatest academic communities in the world. We value learning, collaborating and contributing, with students at the center of it all. We want your ideas, your enthusiasm, and your many different voices.

"And we want you to 'do good.'"


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