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50 years of Summer Welcome helps incoming students feel at home

For the past 50 years, the University of Missouri has welcomed incoming freshmen to a robust, two-day program to learn what it means to be a Tiger

June 24th, 2019

Story Contact: Liz McCune, 573-882-6212,

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Two years ago, Hunter Pendleton approached the Summer Welcome check-in desk as a hopeful freshman, unaware of just how the University of Missouri would play a role in his love for telling stories. Now, as a junior documentary journalism major and student coordinator for Summer Welcome, Pendleton knows he is right where he belongs — earning a degree in what he loves and helping other students discover that same path.

“It’s a surreal experience to see Summer Welcome from the other side,” Pendleton said. “Two years later, I can’t imagine myself anywhere else.”

Summer Welcome ’19 from Mizzou News on Vimeo.

For six weeks this summer, thousands of incoming freshmen will become immersed in what it means to be a Tiger during Summer Welcome, a highly successful orientation program Mizzou has hosted for the past 50 years.

Students participating in more than 20 sessions will meet their academic adviser, tour their residence halls, register for classes and learn Mizzou’s fight song.

To prepare, 36 student leaders train for 16 days in order to give students and their guardians a taste of Mizzou, whether that be through learning Mizzou traditions or figuring out how to navigate campus. During their stay, students can learn more about fraternity and sorority life, campus safety, the Honors College and the best places to study.

“Since Summer Welcome is two days long, students get to actually stay for a night in a residence hall with students who are going to be living with them in the fall,” said Kathleen Hinkle, coordinator of new student programs. “It really makes them feel more at home because they are meeting people that will be in their home.”

This year is the second in a row that MU is expecting double-digit percentage growth of the freshman class. The exposure to both logistic and cultural aspects of Mizzou is critical in helping new students feel connected.

“The moment a student commits to MU as their place of study, we want them to feel Mizzou is their home,” said Kim Humphrey, vice provost of enrollment management. “Through Summer Welcome, we take great care to introduce students to what campus life looks like.”

The program is quite successful—about 99% of those who attend Summer Welcome return to begin classes in the fall.

Provost Latha Ramchand said meeting professors and their academic advisers well before returning in the fall is just another way Mizzou strives to help students feel supported.

“Professors and academic advisers play key roles in a student’s academic success,” Ramchand said. “Summer Welcome can be a great starting place for those connections to grow.”

Attending Summer Welcome helped student coordinator Hunter Pendleton seal the deal with Mizzou, and he looks forward to spending the rest of the summer helping other students explore what Mizzou has to offer.

“To this day, some of the people in my Summer Welcome group are some of my best friends,” Pendleton said. “Summer Welcome helped me realize that MU could be my home if I put in the effort and became intentional in making those connections.”