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The Renaissance Class

By Add Seymour Jr.

Approximately 750 men of Morehouse comprise the freshman class.

IT WAS A SOUL-STIRRING MOMENT. There they were—750 clean-cut, young and intelligent black men, clad in maroon blazers and singing “Dear Old Morehouse” on Westview Drive, the main artery of the campus. It was just moments before they would march up Brown Street and have the gate locked behind them in the College’s ritual of separation and independence. It was perhaps their first true moment as men of Morehouse.

Streams of parents and family sobbed and even members of the Morehouse family, many of whom had witness this scene many times before, were themselves moved.

“To see all those young men—bright, powerful, eager to learn—ready to conquer the world,” said Anne Watts, associate vice president for Academic Affairs. “That is a powerful, powerful scene.”

The class has been dubbed the “Renaissance Class,” a tribute to the fact that this class will be the first to study their entire collegiate careers under the tutelage of President Robert Franklin ‘75.

But, according to Sterling Hudson III, dean of Admissions and Records, the class has another distinguishing mark. Each student was personally interviewed, either by admissions personnel or alumni based in their hometowns, due in part to some high-profile incidents involving Morehouse students or former students that garnered negative attention towards the College.

“I think it’s been very helpful to us to understand who our students are beyond their academic profile,” Hudson said.

“The major difference in this class is their measure of character. We have already observed that this class has come in with a different demeanor,” he said.

Terrence Dixon, associate dean of Admissions and Records, concurred.

“They seem to be very focused and willing to receive direction from the Morehouse community,” said Dixon.

Though final figures are still being tallied by the Office of Assessment and Institutional Research, Hudson said the new men of Morehouse come from nearly 37 states. Nearly 22 percent of the estimated 750 freshman come from Georgia, with two-thirds of that group hailing from metro Atlanta.

“I think that’s an indication that we have stepped up our recruiting in the metro Atlanta area and the outlying counties,” Hudson said, adding that many of the Georgia students are HOPE scholarship recipients.

There is also a strong representation of new students from California, the Washington, D.C./Maryland/Northern Virginia area, metropolitan New York City, Chicago, Michigan and Texas.

This class is very accomplished academically. Nearly 20 percent of them are high school valedictorians or salutatorians with a mean grade point average of 3.3—very close to the 3.5 goal that Hudson says his office has set for incoming freshmen classes.

“We’re very close,” he says. “This class is strong—at least as strong as last year.”

During NSO, the new students and their parents were introduced to the Morehouse community through sessions and talks with every area of campus life: administration, financial aid, various academic departments and even campus police.

“It’s an opportunity to address any unreadiness on the part of students or questions from parents,” Hudson says. “I think it also presented the College a chance to convey to parents and incoming freshmen the culture of the College. I think it went well.”

It went well even as tears fell from the eyes of proud parents who watched as their sons put on the new Morehouse blazers—one of the first outward signs that they would abide by President Franklin’s urging to “look the part; act the part; talk the talk and walk the walk.”

“These young men are works in progress,” said Watts of the Renaissance Class. “But it’s also a transformation. These young men are being transformed from boys into men. They are moving from one place of their lives of youthfulness and they are becoming men in a very special and dynamic way.

“That’s what Morehouse does. It builds men.”

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