“Anyway you measure it—ACT scores, grade point average, number of valedictorians, number of Governors Scholars, National Merit Scholars—you are the best in the history of the University of Louisville and we are very proud and we’re proud that you’re” here, said President James Ramsey.

“Give it up for yourselves,” he told the more than 650 new Cardinals who gathered for convocation in Cardinal Arena. The annual event outgrew Comstock Hall in the School of Music last year.

Quoting from an essay in “This I Believe,” this year’s Book-In-Common, in which the author stated that she admired the phrase, “Wherever you are, be there,” Ramsey urged the students to take advantage of everything the university and the community offer to enhance their educations.

“Be here. Be engaged. Be Cardinals,” he said.

Judging from the numbers during Welcome Week, students already are heeding his advice.

Bid Day saw more than 303 women join Greek sororities—a record number, according to the Student Affairs’ blog. Some 600 students turned out for the SOUL community service day on Saturday, and on Aug. 16, the majority of students in the School of Law got out and did their part to help community organizations.

We could not have been more excited to welcome such a great class of first-time freshmen and transfer students, said Christy Metzger, director of First-Year Initiatives. From REACH academic prep sessions to SOUL service and Book-in-Common discussions, we saw record attendance at many of our events throughout the week. That signifies that our students are doing just what we hoped: getting out on campus; meeting our faculty, staff and students; and engaging in the life of the university right from the start.

Both Ramsey and Provost Shirley Willihnganz spoke at convocation before helping Tom Jackson, vice president for student affairs, and Michael Mardis, dean of students, distribute CARDS caps.

Think of them as placeholders until you earn your degree and put on a mortar board, Willihnganz said.

Willihnganz told the new students two stories—the first about an optimistic person whose response for every situation was, “This is good,” and the second about the harsh introduction baby giraffes receive after they are born as mother giraffes repeatedly kick their babies to make them stand. The provost did so to make several points about “some things that I believe it’s important for you to think about as you begin this wonderful journey.”

Namely, that “…If you have some optimism and some ability to try to see the good in things, it will be easier.”

It’s also important to “Work to find the vision or dream of what you think needs to be accomplished … and if you get knocked down … no matter how often … get up again—and again, and in four years you will have a college degree…”

But, she told the students, “While you are thinking about what you believe and while you find your beliefs changing, also be yourself because that is the most true thing that can happen for you here.

“College is an amazing opportunity. You are an amazing person. We are amazingly glad that you are here. And as I look out on you, one thing that I can say for sure, this is good.”