Students attend class on the downtown campus of WVU during the first day of the Fall Semester August 15, 2018.

An array of Welcome Week activities designed to foster lifelong passion and purpose await an estimated 5,600 new students from around the world making their way to Morgantown this week to embark on a new journey at West Virginia University.

“I have been a university president for a long time, but I still get excited at this time of year,” President Gordon Gee said. “The renewed energy our students bring is only matched by the excitement they display when they graduate. It is also a testament to the continuing growth of West Virginia University in stature and accessibility. I look forward to welcoming everyone to campus –– and I plan to get a selfie with every one of them!”

Events kick off Thursday (Aug. 15) with an orientation session for international students. The next day, a record-breaking number of Honors College students move in.

“We are excited for this year’s freshman class to arrive on campus and begin their journey as Mountaineers. This group again includes over 1,050 new Honors students and they bring with them their perspectives and experiences from across the country and around the globe, representing 28 countries,” Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maryanne Reed said. “We look forward to welcoming this new class to WVU and watching them achieve great things as Mountaineers.”

The busiest day will be Saturday (Aug. 17), as the majority of first-year students move into residence halls.

University Police Chief W. P. Chedester said extra officers and University staff will be on hand to keep traffic moving, and officers will be highly visible in congested areas and ready to assist.

“As always, safety is our number one concern. We would like to ask everyone to exercise caution and understanding,” Chedester said. “I would also encourage everyone to be patient, stay alert and avoid distractions when driving and crossing the street due to the increase in pedestrian and vehicular traffic.”

First-time students will have the opportunity to mingle and get to know each other while enjoying free food, music and games at Welcome Week Picnics from 6 – 8 p.m. at the Student Rec Center and the Mountainlair Plaza.

To help integrate the cohort into their new community and promote WVU’s culture of commitment to community service, new students will spend Sunday (Aug. 18) and Monday (Aug. 19) participating in a host of AdventureWV and service projects in the Morgantown area and beyond.

“Welcome Week is an opportunity to celebrate and preview some amazing opportunities that will be available to students here in their new community,” said Kristi Wood-Turner, director of the Center for Service and Learning. “Celebrating social action and the Mountaineer value of service to others is a great way to start an amazing adventure at WVU.”

Students can unwind and watch Avengers: Endgame on Sunday evening at MovieFest. The film selection was decided by student vote on the WVU Instagram account. Students also have the opportunity to learn about the more than 475 student organizations on campus at the Student Organization Fair. The combined events begin at 6 p.m. at the WVU Coliseum.

Monday Night Lights, a Welcome Week tradition set for 8 p.m. at the Milan Puskar Stadium, will provide an opportunity for the entire freshman class to gather and learn more about University traditions. The event will also feature a class photo in the shape of the state and a special performance by the Mountaineer Marching Band. And for the first time, Monday Night Lights will be streamed live on Facebook and YouTube beginning with a pre-show live stream at 7:15 p.m.

On Tuesday (Aug. 20), all students are invited to feed their inner foodie and sample a variety of cuisines at FoodFest, slated for 4 p.m. at Short Term Lot 4 near the Student Rec Center and Evansdale Crossing.

Signature events will wrap up later that afternoon at FallFest scheduled from 5 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. at the Evansdale Rec Fields. WVU Arts and Entertainment will announce the lineup Friday (Aug.16).

“Welcome Week is always one of my favorite times of the year,” Dean of Students Corey Farris said. “It’s exciting to see our returning students taking part in the events, renewing friendships, helping new students navigate campus and making new connections. I especially enjoy seeing the excitement of new students as they start their new adventure of joining the Mountaineer family, learning where they fit in, exploring campus and making bonds that can last a lifetime.”

Wednesday (Aug. 21) will mark the first day of classes for the fall 2019 semester.

Visit the 2019 Welcome Week website for the full schedule of events.