Welcoming the Class of 2023 in Arts & Sciences

The campus is bustling again after a week of welcoming the Class of 2023 and transfer students to the College of Arts & Sciences. From roommate meetings and late-night snacking sessions in the dorms to meetings with faculty and peer advisors, new students are learning the ropes and becoming part of the Cornell community. 

Every year, Arts & Sciences deans greet new students and issue a few words of wisdom as students begin their Cornell journeys. This year, Rachel Bean, the Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education and a professor of astronomy; and Ray Jayawardhana, the Harold Tanner Dean of Arts & Sciences and also a professor of astronomy, welcomed students Sunday morning in Bailey Hall. Here are some of the thoughts they shared:

Dean Ray Jayawardhana
Jayawardhana encouraged new students to remember three things:

  1. Explore boldly
  2. Make good use of your time, and
  3. Find your people

“Your journey here at Cornell can be epic, if you make it so,” he said. “Early literature tells us that legendary heroes emerge from Ithaca. In Greek mythology, Ithaca is an island, both a port of departure and a point of return. 

“I want you to think of Ithaca, and more specifically, Cornell, as a place that will prepare you for YOUR life’s epic journey …

“Your exploration of the many opportunities that Cornell offers, the ways that you spend your precious time, and the people you meet -- faculty, fellow students, College staff, and alumni -- will be instrumental to the success of your journey, as well as the caliber of your story.”

Bean encouraged students to take advantage of their newfound freedom and take some intellectual risks.

“A liberal arts education, more than any other, offers the best opportunities to tailor your curriculum to meet your intellectual and academic needs,” Bean said. “One germane way to think about this is to imagine many doors which are there for you to open and walk through. To me, this both captures the sense and scale of opportunity, but also (if you’re currently imagining innumerable doors stretching off into the distance) explains the natural sense of apprehension we can feel when we face consequential choices.

“What you must remember is this: which doors to choose, how and when to open them, is not something you need to decide alone, in isolation.”

Student t-shirts from overhead


Family in front of A&S sign


Bailey Hall crowd


New students in A&S t-shirts

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 Students in Bailey Hall crowd