Dean Stephanie Balmer's Convocation Speech
August 26, 2012
Good afternoon! I extend a warm welcome to Dickinson's class of
2016 and all of our new students! To our first-years,
congratulations on your success with the college application,
admissions and selection process as you are now college
first-years! To each newly enrolled student-first-years and
transfers-you made it!
Demand for Dickinson is strong as evidenced by a robust
application year—nearly the largest in the college's history. We
know that what we offer you—a useful and practical education in the
liberal-arts tradition—is ardently desired by prospective students
around the world. You should know that the class of 2016 was
selected from the most competitive and selective pool in the
college's 229-year history. But this statistic only scratches the
surface of your achievements. The academic qualifications of the
class of 2016 are extremely impressive. And as another critical
element of those high qualifications, you represent among the most
diverse classes in the college's history. Please know that we have
invested significantly in each one of you, and we support and expect
you to take full advantage of the opportunities that lie
As Beloit College's class of 2016 mindset list reminded us last
week, members of this year's first-year class, most of them born in
1994, have always lived in cyberspace and measured their lives in
the fundamental particles of life—bits, bytes and bauds—and have
only known Bill Clinton as a senior statesman rather than a U.S. president.
Before I present the class of 2016 to President Durden, allow me
to introduce this inspiring class to the Dickinson community:
- 5,844 students applied for admissions with 40 percent offered a
place in the class. There are 603 members of the class of 2016, with
nine of you arriving following the completion of a "gap year." We
welcome 20 transfers from institutions including:
- Boston University
- Broward Community College
- College of Holy Cross
- George Washington University
- Johns Hopkins University
- Manhattanville College
- Susquehanna University
- University of Delaware
- Villanova University
- Worth special note—four students arrive this fall from our
community college partner schools including Howard, Montgomery, and
Northampton community colleges.
- 298 of you—49 percent of the class—made your "first choice" declaration
as Early Decision candidates. That also means that 5,546 applicants
competed for the remaining 304 spots in the class through Early
Action and Regular Decision. In other words, there were 18
applicants for each place in the class, so each student's presence
here is an accomplishment of significant merit.
- For those who come from high schools that rank—about 30 percent
of the class—an impressive 48 percent ranked in the top 10 percent
of your graduating class.
- You come from 472 high schools. The smallest high schools
attended graduated a senior class of 10 each—The Avalon School in
North Bethesda, Md., and Lake Champlain Waldorf HS in Charlotte, Vt.;
the largest—New Trier Township HS in Winnetka, Ill., with a
graduating class of 1,015.
- Top academic interests include international studies,
international business and management, biology, psychology, and
- This year's class is among our most diverse, with nearly 21
percent of the class comprised of domestic students of color and
international students; 4 percent of the class represents dual
citizens; 15 different languages are spoken in your homes.
- 327 of you are women; 275 of you are men.
- 7 percent of you are the first in your family to attend
college or are first-generation college students.
- Varsity athletes comprise 28 percent of the class, including
state record holders, All Americans and All-State honors to name a
- 22 of you have a sibling legacy and 26 students with a parent or
You come together from big cities and small towns—35 U.S. states
and territories including Washington, D.C., and 21 countries
including New Zealand, Uruguay, China, Spain, Singapore,
Switzerland and Vietnam, to name just a few.
Many of your parents were drawn to the same name. A tip for
class discussions—if the professor calls on Rachel, Emily,
Elizabeth, Hannah, Sarah, David, Andrew, John or Nicholas, look
around the classroom before you offer an answer as these names
represent 14 percent of the class!
While many of you have held jobs in recent years, a significant
number of you answered the call of activism—service highlights many
of your applications and interests.
While we know you performed well in the classroom, the class of
2016 boasts students with unique and impressive activities and
- debate captains
- scientific researchers
- accomplished artists, musicians, authors and poets
- a volunteer with Global Routes, a not-for-profit organization
that places tutors in local villages to teach English around the
- a U.S. Department of State scholar selected to study in China as
one of 650 in the U.S. to participate in the National Security
Language Initiative for Youth Scholarship.
So, as I reflect on these remarkable accomplishments of our new
students, I challenge each of you to use these gifts to further
strengthen this special community. Look around … each of you is the
kind of person your classmates came to Dickinson to meet. May your
formative years at this college that believes in you and has such
hope for you and your future, inspire you and engage you to live
President Durden, with great pride and on behalf of my
colleagues in admissions, I present to you the class of 2016 and
all of our new students!