Michael T. Benson/EKU President

In less than two weeks, EKU will welcome our newest class of Colonels.

Class of 2023: we are so excited you have chosen EKU. We cannot wait to welcome you to campus. I tell people often that welcome week is hands down my favorite time of year to be a university president.

Naturally, commencement season is also full of joy and celebration, but there is something special about the energy and sense of renewal that exudes from an incoming class of new freshmen. Many of these students are the first in their families to attend college. They have chosen EKU to begin their path to independence and a world of opportunity. Their introduction to campus, combined with the return of many of our esteemed faculty who have had a few months off for research, projects or just good old "R&R," fill the EKU campus and the community with a palpable energy.

Our incoming students are met first by the dedicated staff who have been preparing for their arrival. I am proud to say that our Campus Beautiful has also been through a renewal, thanks to the efforts of our Staff Council, President's Office and many employees who volunteered for our first EKU Day of Service. This past Friday, nearly 175 people signed up to lend a hand wherever needed to spruce up the grounds, pick up litter and declutter various areas of campus. We want to put our best face forward for our new and returning students and all of our campus visitors.

Now entering my seventh year as EKU's president I remain humbled by the responsibility of this office and I am so proud of EKU. Change has not always been easy, but as Greek philosopher Heraclitus observed, it is our only constant. The final phases of the campus revitalization are nearing completion. Soon, we expect to unveil a new, spacious and state-of-the-art campus recreation center, and a beautifully renovated Powell Student Center. Our students led the charge and offered their vision for these spaces. I am eager to introduce them to the finished product when these facilities come online in a few months.

While at times it might seem that our campus has its own boundaries and is a "city within a city," it is always our aspiration to be good neighbors. As our students engage in their academic pursuits, I hope they consider Richmond to truly be their second home. When our local population will increase by the thousands with move-in day quickly approaching, I invite the Richmond and Madison County community to participate in the fourth year of what has become a stirring annual tradition: the Colonel Walk.

As part of the "Big E Welcome", our incoming freshman class fills Lancaster Avenue, marching together under the pedway to Turner Gate. As students pass through the arches inscribed with the words wisdom and knowledge, their pursuit of both as EKU Colonels officially begins. On Friday, Aug. 16, at approximately 5:15 p.m., EKU's faculty, staff, coaches, cheer and dance teams, marching band and anyone else so inclined will line the sidewalks and steps to the campus entrance cheering on our new students as we welcome them to the EKU Family.

There is simply nothing like it.

I would love to see our neighbors in the community join us. It is a great time to be a Colonel!

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