Excited UD freshmen move in; tearful UD parents say goodbye

University of Dayton expects to hold steady at last year’s record total enrollment of 12,000 students

The University of Dayton on Friday welcomed nearly 2,000 freshmen as they moved into their dorms, got their ID cards and maybe grabbed something to eat on Brown Street.

Hundreds of student volunteers, including the football team, were lined up to greet the more than 1,800 freshmen living in residence halls this year. Classes start Monday for UD students.

Cari Wallace, UD’s assistant vice president for student development, said the remaining students who aren’t moving in on Friday are mostly commuters, or may be moving in a little later. But most students moved in on Friday.

“This is the day,” Wallace said. “If you’re an incoming first-year student, this is when you come.”

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UD expects to remain at last year’s record enrollment for this upcoming academic year, with about 12,000 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and law students expected to attend.

More than 19% of the new students are from historically underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, according to UD, and about 9% are the first in their families to attend college. About 17% of the new student body is eligible for the federal Pell Grant, which helps students from low-income backgrounds pay for college.

UD President Eric Spina said last September in an interview with the Dayton Daily News that UD has grown almost continuously over the last 25 years. But he said maintaining class size made sense for the university this year.

“You think about our university and the value in personal relationships and being able to wrap your arms around the university,” he said. “I think if we got any larger, we would lose some of the special character of UD.”

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Move-in day is quite an operation. Parents enter campus in various spots, but much of the traffic is routed to an Irving Avenue entrance. Families wait in line in their cars for an open spot next to their child’s dorm. When they pull up, student volunteers help parents get as much stuff into bins as possible before having parents move their cars to another location.

Wallace said the university has permanently changed some of the ways they manage move-in due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think there’s actually been positive changes that have happened as a result of how we managed and transitioned from COVID,” Wallace said.

UD is recommending masks this academic year but not immediately requiring students to wear them.

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Diana Barrett, director of student transitions and family programs, said the campus wants to leave a welcoming, happy impression on first-years and their families on moving day.

“It is the first impression that students have of campus, as well as family members,” Barrett said.

Mary Kuckelman, a UD first-year student from Indianapolis, said she’s looking forward to meeting new people and making new friends this upcoming year.

Kuckelman said she moved most of her stuff in a few weeks ago, when UD had a drop-off day for freshmen. The students could sign up for a one-hour slot and get as much of their things into the dorm as possible.

“So far, it’s been really great. I’m excited,” said Kuckelman, who plans to major in political science and minor in Chinese.

Her mom, Melissa Kuckelman, reluctantly agreed, as move-in day is also goodbye day.

“We’re very excited, but extremely sad,” she said.



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