August 25, 2014

'I Am A Billiken': SLU Welcomes Class of 2018

Saint Louis University welcomed a class of nearly 1,600 incoming students at the New Student Convocation and Family Welcome Aug. 22 held in Chaifetz Arena. Approximately 3,000 people attended the annual event, which is the culmination of the first week of Fall Welcome.

University President Fred P. Pestello welcomed members of the Class of 2018 to the University and declared them all new Billikens.

"As new Billikens, you are about to become immersed in this academically rich environment to which you will soon come to feel a strong attachment, one that will remain with you for the rest of your lives," Pestello said. "This attachment is grounded in the experience of a college education in the Jesuit tradition, an approach that the entire world holds in the highest esteem."

Pestello was elected SLU's 33rd president on March 20 by the University's Board of Trustees. 

Ellen Harshman, J.D., Ph.D., interim vice president for Academic Affairs, introduced the faculty, deans, vice presidents, staff members and returning students in attendance, before Paul Stark, S.J., vice president for Mission and Ministry, delivered the invocation.

"Today as you begin this adventure in your lives, our prayer can be for all of you, that you will be used up for a purpose you recognize as a mighty one," Stark said. "That you are known not only for your education and abilities, but also for being useful and honorable, responsible and compassionate."

Stark's full remarks can be read online.

Each year as part of Convocation, Jay Goff, vice president for Enrollment and Retention Management, presents the academic achievements of the incoming class.

The average ACT score for the Class of 2018 was 27.6 and the average GPA was 3.81. Two hundred students will be the first in their family to earn a college degree, and 309 students are the child, grandchild or sibling of an alumni.

Returning student Kevin Fitzsimmons, a senior in the College of Education and Public Service, gave new students advice on how to find balance in pursuing the University's mission of "the pursuit of truth for the greater glory of God and the service of humanity."

"SLU gathers a wide array of driven, values-based individuals to a campus where they can develop spiritually, mentally and physically as they build relationships and prepare to become successful, contributing citizens of the world." Fitzsimmons said. "As you meet people here at SLU, I challenge you to actually invest in them."

Keep up with all the latest Fall Welcome news online at the First-Year Experience website. Share Fall Welcome experiences on Facebook and Twitter by tagging videos and photos with "#SLUFW2014."

To learn more about becoming a student at SLU, visit

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