J. Antonio “Tony” Cabasco ’90, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid

Good morning. It’s my pleasure to add my welcome to the new students and their families. We are delighted that you are here to begin your Whitman experience and, for the parents and families here, to help with the move-in process.

Convocation is one my favorite events because it celebrates the beginning of the academic year and signals the arrival of a new group of bright students who will begin their academic career at Whitman.

Some of you may be surprised to hear this, but today is a bittersweet time for us in the admission office. For the past 6-18 months, we’ve been your primary contact. The staff and I have gotten to know you, interviewed you, read your essays and applications, advocated for you, and have looked forward to welcoming you here. Now, our formal contact ends as we officially welcome you to campus.

This year’s entering class of 431 students is the second largest class ever; second only to the class that entered in the fall 1978 with 438 new students

As I look out and see the smiling faces of the new students, I reflect on the process that led you here today. You were selected from the largest applicant pool in the College’s history. Nearly 3,300 students from nearly 50 states and more than 70 countries completed applications.

The admission committee carefully read each application to determine the students who are the best fit. Our task is made challenging because we can admit less than half of the highly qualified applicant pool. My colleagues and I looked for students who love academic challenges and can handle the rigors of a Whitman education. We also tried to find students who demonstrated a passion(s) for something, students who were highly engaged in their community and made a difference in some way, and students who would provide a different perspective in and out of the classroom.

I’d like to share a few details about this entering class:

1. They are academically talented — it’s self-evident in the traditional measures of GPA and testing statistics.

2. They are a diverse group — about ¼ are students of color or international students and 1 in 10 are the first in their family to go to college.

They bring perspectives from different parts of the world — from Ecuador to China, Alaska to Alabama; Bangkok to Boston; and Sofia to Seattle.

We have students who hold dual citizenships from Chile, Israel, and Syria, to Switzerland the UK.

About 16 languages are represented in this entering class.

More than half of you have traveled abroad already in your high school career or in a gap year.

3. This entering class is made up of students who are accomplished not only in the classroom, but beyond it as well.

Over 1/3 of the entering class held a leadership position as a class or ASB officer, editor or co-editor of a school publication, captain or co-captain of a varsity team, and/or founded a club or organization.

4. Finally, social networking is a lifestyle for you. As of last night, 332 of you are part of the Class of 2012 Facebook group, the highest percentage of the entering class to have joined such a group in Facebook’s short history. You’ve discussed music, pets, classes you plan take, the summer reading, and shared your excitement and fears about the transition to college. From my perspective, it seems that you’ve gotten to know each other well.

I know that that you will be wonderful additions to the Whitman community.

In closing, let me say to the new students, “welcome” and “best wishes.” Study and learn like you never have before, engage in some of the most stimulating intellectual conversations you will ever have, have fun, and cherish your time here.

To members of the Whitman community — faculty, staff, current students, alumni, and friends — I proudly present the new transfer students and class of 2012.

THANK YOU.