Our campus has been bustling with excitement and activity since our students returned for fall semester. That should come as no surprise, as I am sure many of you remember that same experience from your time at Marietta. There is a real sense of pride and enthusiasm that comes with a larger freshman class and a student body engaged in learning in and out of the classroom.

For the first time in four years, our first-year student enrollment increased over the previous year from 284 to 312 students. Are we satisfied? Not even close; and with Steve Lazowski — our new Vice President for Enrollment Management — and his team taking a much more refined and strategic approach to recruitment, we are confident we will continue to see enrollment growth. We are increasing the travel of our Admission Team while helping the team improve its recruiting strategies under Steve’s leadership. We will hit the traditional markets, but we’re also increasing our boots on the ground in Indianapolis, Louisville, Chicago, Baltimore, Nashville, Georgia, North Dakota, Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and the New England states.

With the recent appointment of a Digital Content Specialist, I am also thrilled to say we are stepping up our game in regard to digital communication, which allows us to strategically target students who are more likely to matriculate at Marietta College in the future.

There is also an enthusiasm that comes with adding sports teams and watching established student-athletes enjoying success.

Coach Tom Arison recruited some outstanding golfers for both the men’s and women’s teams. In just the second tournament of the fall, women’s golfer Jackie Cunningham ’20 was the top scorer at the Mount Union Fall Invitational — the first time a Pioneer had been the medalist in women’s golf.

Men’s soccer goalkeeper Tyler Sholl ’18 started the season on an astonishing streak of not allowing a goal for the first four games, including a shutout against No. 15 Kenyon. Marietta football opened the season with an impressive, come-from-behind victory at Geneva, and before we know it, we’ll be cheering on men’s and women’s basketball — both of whom will be in the hunt for an Ohio Athletic Conference championship.

We have to wait until 2018 to welcome lacrosse to Marietta, but our new coaches — Malory Brunett and Shawn Runyon — are busy recruiting and teaching all of us the rules of the sport.

This fall, the faculty has been reviewing a new general education curriculum that will improve its quality and should also satisfy the needs and expectations of today’s student. Accreditation is also a critical piece of higher education, and our Physician Assistant Studies Program recently completed its review process. The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant will determine the program’s accreditation status at the March 2018 meeting.

I’m also proud of the strong connections we have made with the community at large. At the end of the first week of the fall semester, hundreds of our students and employees participated in two huge city events. On that Friday, the College hosted the monthly First Fridays in Downtown Marietta. Community members and shop owners enjoyed interacting with our students and employees as they shopped and browsed on Front, Second and Putnam streets for four hours. Then the very next day, another 100 or so students and employees represented the College well as they walked in the annual Washington County Fair Parade handing out special PioNation cans of Coca-Cola, our new beverage partner, Marietta College drawstring bags and, of course, thousands of pieces of candy.

I could easily make an argument that this momentum started in summer when the College’s senior leadership joined the Board of Trustees for an important retreat in Traverse City, Michigan, for three days. The discussions — both formal and informal — set the stage for how positive the tone is at Marietta College these days.

I am confident you will notice the excitement if you attend this year’s Homecoming celebration Oct. 20th22nd.

Right now, this is the time, this is the place, and this is home!

Bring Forth a Pioneer!