Using the hand bell that once belonged to Caleb Mills, one of the College’s first educators, President Scott Feller welcomed the newest class of students during the annual Ringing In ceremony.
“Men of the Wabash Class of 2027,” Feller said after ringing the same bell that will toll once again when the class graduates, “welcome to the brotherhood.
“Today, all of you officially become Wabash men—though I suspect most of you have proudly used that title for months,” Feller said at the start of the event Saturday as students filled the rows of pews, surrounded by their family and friends inside Pioneer Chapel.
Before further addressing students, Feller spoke to the parents in the crowd who felt a range of emotions as their sons have reached an important milestone.
“It might be hard to hear, but let your son go,” Feller said. “Let him stride out on his own and try new things. Let him explore this exciting place. Let him stumble if he must—and know that his Wabash faculty and staff, and especially his Wabash brothers, will be there to lend him a hand when needed. Trust that this is the place that will allow your son to become the man you have always imagined him to be.”
The attention was then turned directly to the 237 new students who are just days away from participating in their first Wabash classes.
Feller challenged them to reflect and think about how they can make the most of their liberal arts education over next four years.
“Use your time here to build lifelong relationships with roommates, classmates, and teammates,” Feller said. “Take seriously the offer of open office hours by your professors. You will discover that our faculty are genuinely accessible and they care deeply about your intellectual and emotional growth over the next four years, and long after that.
“Sing in the Glee Club, write for The Bachelor, get involved in theater or politics, join clubs, intern in a professor’s lab, compete. Engage with the nation’s top alumni network,” he continued. “Fill your life with challenge, opportunity, and joy.”
The potential success of the Class of 2027 is evident in its diversity and accolades.
The class includes students from 21 states and 10 countries. Among their peers are 41 legacies and 71 first-generation college students. Four were valedictorians of their high school class, while 15 were Eagle Scouts. The average GPA of the class is 3.83.
Dean for Enrollment Management Chip Timmons ’96 shared stories of the class that show dedication and empathy.
One student founded a charity to provide food service for homeless and food-insecure children.
One student is a Riley Children’s Hospital champion and ambassador. Another student raised $104,000 for leukemia research.
Other new students include a two-time ironman triathlon competitor, a polyglot (a person who can speak several different languages—five, in this case), a member of the Italian National Lacrosse Team, a top-ranked Rocket League player, and a 10-year 4-H member who showed goats and rabbits.
“The next four years will not be the last four years of childhood or prolonged adolescence. Today marks your first day as an adult,” Timmons said. “Wabash will provide you, our sons, the opportunities to succeed and fail, to become the best scholars, leaders, athletes, friends, and men you can be—all the while surrounded by a community that will encourage, love, and unconditionally support you, just as a family should.”
Jim Hawksworth ’95, president of the National Association of Wabash Men, spoke about the College’s top-ranked alumni network and said all want to help students succeed during their time here and beyond.
“There is a sense of community here that is difficult to explain, an intangible thing that naturally occurs as you discover what a truly unique place this is,” Hawksworth said. “It’s a kinship that is generational, borne out of mutual respect people have for each other after accomplishing something great and difficult, no matter the era you graduate. Graduating from Wabash is not easy but it will be worth it, and that pride is unshakable.”
Hawksworth concluded with a simple piece of advice for students: take advantage of Wabash.
“The onus is on you to step out of your comfort zone to act,” he said. “You will have countless opportunities to meet and speak with highly successful and interesting alumni who want to see you succeed. Wabash alumni are your biggest advocates—we understand Wabash, we have been in your shoes, and many of us are where we are today because one of our own cared enough to take a chance on us.”