The sight of lines of vehicles of various makes and models, filled to the brim with every conceivable want or need for today’s college student, is an annual rite of passage around the country each August. Such was the backdrop for the 2022 edition of Move-In Day, and the rest of Welcome Week activities, at Columbia College.

Moving in and moving on

An army of members of the campus community, including Columbia College President and first lady Dr. David and Lee Russell, were out in force to welcome students back to campus during the move-in process. Also, the college hosted a parent reception on Miller Lawn, featuring lemonade and snacks, to refuel loved ones as they returned home with empty vehicles.

A woman hauls belongings up the stairs to Miller Hall during Move-In 2022

Lexi Miller and Christina Maltsberger are freshmen who will suit up for the Cougar Women’s Basketball team later this school year, and once they had settled into New Hall, Christina’s mother, Nicole, was pleased with how the day went. “This was our first dorm move-in, and honestly, once she went through the registration line, got her ID and key, we were golden,” she said. “We just had to get everything up to her room and spend our time organizing. I feel like it was pretty seamless.”

Hillarie and Caleb Bilbruck drove into town from Sedalia, and were grateful for the assistance moving in their son, Aaron. “There was a ton of help when we got here. The RAs helped unload all the stuff from the car, so we made one trip to the room and we were good,” said Hillarie. Caleb appreciated the lemonade for the families, as well as the chance to see come of campus. “It lets us come out and experience campus a little bit, enjoy the hammocks,” he said.

You can just feel the new energy in the air. Everybody’s excited to come into a world where they can get back to a real college experience, and we provide that better than anybody else.
Dave Roberts

Dean for Student Affairs

For Hana Farrington, a junior resident assistant living in Hughes Hall, move-in day was a welcome, yet busy day. “It’s definitely been hectic, a lot of chaos and craziness, but it’s been good to have everyone help out,” said Farrington, who hails from Fayetteville, North Carolina. She and her fellow RA’s arrived on campus a couple weeks earlier, to go through training on various scenarios that might arise during the year, as well as plan programming for their residents. “It’s definitely a lot of work that you put in before anyone else gets here, but it’s worth it,” she said.

Things to see, things to do

Move-in was just the start of several days of activities to welcome students back to main campus. Thursday’s slate included meetings with residents both as a full group and in their residence halls, as well as opportunities to tour classrooms and icebreakers for new students. On Friday, students witnessed the volleyball team register a 3-0 sweep of 21st-ranked Grand View University in its Hampton Inn Classic opener, then enjoyed Lemonade on the Lawn with popcorn, snacks, and a movie under the stars on Miller Lawn. Couch Wars is an annual tradition that allows students to learn more about campus, and each other, via a photo scavenger hunt – all while hauling around an inflatable couch as a quasi-mascot.

The finale of Welcome Week, Storm the Gate, is now in its 10th year. Newcomers began the evening in the parking lot at Tenth and Rogers, and Scooter the Cougar led students through the college’s iconic Rogers Gate, where the returning students, along with faculty, staff, alumni and friends, cheered on the newcomers. Clear skies slowly began to darken as the sun set on Bass Commons.

“There’s a vibrancy on campus, there’s an electricity,” said Dean of Student Affairs Dave Roberts. “I’ve been really excited to see the number of students come out to activities and engage with us a this point. You can just feel the new energy in the air. Everybody’s excited to come into a world where they can get back to a real college experience, and we provide that better than anybody else.”

A new semester for faculty, too

Students weren’t the only fresh faces on campus. Eight new Day Program faculty had their own two-day orientation prior to the college’s annual Fall Faculty Conference, which welcomed all Day faculty back to campus to start the new semester.

Dr. Regan Gurung, associate vice provost and executive director of the Oregon State University Center for Teaching and Learning, provided the keynote address to his Columbia College colleagues. In an address titled, “Teaching Effectively for the Pandemic and Beyond: Promising and Evidence-Informed Practices,” Dr. Gurung laid out a map for educators to enhance their development and improve student understanding in the aftermath of the pandemic.

“We were fortunate to be able to bring in Dr. Gurung to speak with us,” said Dr. Blake Nielsen, assistant professor of Psychology and director of the CC’s Center for Teaching and Learning. “He was an energetic presenter, and I know many of our faculty came away with some great ideas moving forward.”

During the first evening of the conference, the college hosted its annual Fall Faculty Celebration to honor the last year of faculty accomplishments. Associate Professor of Criminal Justin Dr. Barry Langford was given the Deans’ Award for Excellence in Service, and Associate Professor of Art Bo Bedilion and Assistant Professor of Education Dr. Mary Miller were both presented the Deans’ Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Two adjunct faculty members were given the Deans’ Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching: Jason Smallheer, an instructor in both the Day and Evening Programs on main campus, as well as the college’s location in Waynesville, Missouri, was presented the award for in-seat instruction, while Jason Powers earned the same honor for online instruction.

The evening closed with the Trustees’ Award for Teaching Excellence (TATE), which was given to Dr. Terry Smith, who has worn many significant hats over his 26 years at Columbia College, and currently serves as professor of Political Science and director of the Honors Program. “He is one of the most popular professors on campus, among his colleagues and with the students,” said Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Piyusha Singh, in introducing Smith. A student submitted the following as part of Dr. Smith’s nomination:

From the moment I stepped on campus, Dr. Smith has done nothing less than change my life. After taking a simple government class with him, he reached out to me to help me realize that my true passion was Political Science. I never thought I could because so many people had always put down my political opinions growing up, but Dr. Smith not only told me to keep talking, but that he actually wanted to hear what I had to say. This completely changed the trajectory of my college education and life as a whole!

Last year’s TATE winner, Dr. Aurelion Mauxion, resumed the tradition of giving a speech in recognition of his award.

Relive Welcome Week 2022 with us through these images!