STILLWATER — The Black Eyed Peas and Lady Gaga can wait, President Burns Hargis told members of Oklahoma State University's largest freshman class since 1982 during a welcoming ceremony Friday.
"Every now and then, take out your earbuds from your iPod and listen to the chimes of the library tower," Hargis said to a crowd of approximately 2,400 students, parents and faculty who gathered in Gallagher-Iba Arena for the university's first New Student Convocation.
Many students got their first glimpse of the building, which Hargis called the rowdiest arena in America. They were greeted by a bagpipe procession and applause from close to 100 administrators and faculty members who gave up their last Friday night before classes begin to welcome the new students.
Hargis has high hopes for the class of 2014, which already has achieved several distinctions.
He said students come from 44 states and nearly 30 countries. This class, with more than 3,400 students, is OSU's highest ranking class academically, Hargis said.
For the first time in the university's history, the average ACT score for the freshman class was above 25. And, for the second year in a row, OSU has more freshmen (505) who finished high school with a 4.0 GPA than any other public university in the state, Hargis said.
Robert Sternberg, OSU's new provost and senior vice president, encouraged students not to accept mediocrity and to be the people they said they would be on their college applications.
Claire Carter Bailey, a 2007 graduate, urged students to take risks. If she hadn't, she said, she would not have become president of OSU's Student Government Association or spent a year teaching in China.
"You can choose who you want to be," Carter Bailey said.
The next few years will be busy, Hargis told students. He encouraged them to pause, open their senses and embrace the serenity of Theta Pond, the energy of class changes and everything else OSU has to offer.
Hargis compared new students to the settlers who lined up north of Stillwater to stake their claim on a new home and a new beginning during the Land Run of 1889.
When classes start Monday, the gun sounds to start a new journey, Hargis told students.
"It's our fervent hope that you will finish the race and claim your reward — an Oklahoma State University