More than 60 events will be held during Welcome Week, Wednesday through Sunday.
More than 60 events will be held during Welcome Week, Wednesday through Sunday.

On Wednesday, the hustle and bustle will return to the University of Louisville, with nearly 2,800 freshmen descending on campus for the first time to kick off the fall semester. In typical Cardinal fashion, the red carpet will be rolled out for them courtesy of Welcome Week, Aug. 17-21, featuring more than 60 events and activities for students with all interests.

Loni Yost, director of First Year Initiatives, said this undertaking helps first year, transfer and returning students get the school year started off right.

“Welcome Week is just one aspect of a great first year and one of our programs that helps students with their transition to the university,” she said. “We offer a variety of fun opportunities to students to develop the personal connections, skills and knowledge that are an essential part of their first year at UofL.”

Many campuses across the country have similar Welcome Week programs, but what differentiates UofL’s efforts are the events that focus on what it means specifically to be part of the UofL Cardinal family, as well as the events – such as Night at the Museum showcasing the Speed Art Museum and the Louisville Sustainability Bike Tour – that are tied to the broader Louisville community.

The First Year Initiatives Team (three staff members and a graduate assistant) plan for Welcome Week throughout the entire year.

“There is little-to-no down time between the end of one Welcome Week and the planning and preparation for the next. In fact, we have already started working on some details and planning for Welcome Week 2017,” Yost said.

There are a number of details that go into each event, from contracting and reservations, to marketing and facility needs. Yost notes that her department relies greatly on many partners across campus and in the community that help facilitate Welcome Week in some capacity, from academic colleges to athletics, and Churchill Downs to the ULPD, as well as external sponsors the Kentucky National Guard, Commonwealth Credit Union and OfficeMax. 

Though there are many facets of Welcome Week, the biggest events throughout the years include convocation, academic unit open houses, the alumni picnic, Book-in-Common discussions, the Playfair, SOUL: Student Outreach Uniting Louisville, CARDS Connection Reunion and SAB events, such as the CARDnival and Luxe Lounge.

New programs added this year

Additionally, this year will feature some scheduling changes due to a few new events, including:

  • CARDS Take Flight: The official start of Welcome Week programming that consists of two parts — Community Connections and Cardinal Kickoff;
  • Night Under the Lights: UofL Athletics will host the inaugural movie night at Lynn Soccer Stadium;
  • Sharing Our Cards: An interactive community-building event;
  • Classroom Quest: Stations will be set up around campus where representatives will answer questions, help students find their classes and provide advice;
  • Target Takeover: The Target store in Bashford Manor will transform for UofL students after hours, featuring a live DJ, food and other activities.

Also this year, some programs have been changed or are being re-introduced:

  • T-Shirt Swap: Introduced for the first time last year. Due to the popularity and success of the event, it has been expanded this year;
  • Night at the Museum: Event at the Speed Art Museum (which was previously a staple event prior to the museum closure for renovations);
  • Day at the Downs: Changed to accommodate more students.

Welcome Week also includes a variety of First Year Initiatives’ CARDS events, created to help UofL newcomers “grow and develop civically, academically, personally and socially” through five aspects of their college experience: Community, Academics, Responsibility, Diversity and Service. This philosophy has been implemented throughout the past year and a half and all first-time freshmen are expected to attend the CARDS Events during Welcome Week.

Yost said the best part of this five-day tradition is simply watching it all come to fruition.

“It is so rewarding to see new students interacting and developing connections with peers, current students, faculty and staff,” she said. “Our team is lucky to interact with all of these individuals during Welcome Week. It’s a time when we really start to see new students making UofL their home and becoming part of the UofL community.”

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Alicia Kelso
Alicia Kelso is editor of UofLNews and UofL Today. She joined UofL in 2015 as communications director of the Brandeis School of Law. Prior, she was the editorial director of foodservice media for Networld Media Group, where her work was featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Bloomberg, The Seattle Times, Good Morning America and Franchise Asia Magazine. She continues to serve as a contributor for many publications, including QSRweb.com, FastCasual.com and Innovation Leader.