Traditional meetings, which allow students and parents to meet with alumni, faculty and staff, move online

If they couldn’t have a living room for their sendoff, they could at least have a living Zoom.

With the fall semester fast approaching, and Norwich University’s summer sendoffs for incoming students needing to start, everybody adjusted. Spring events went online, à la commencement and commissioning, to guard against the coronavirus as did summer events like the sendoffs and as will fall’s Homecoming and Parent and Family Weekend festivities.

The first sendoff came Thursday, involving students from greater Philadelphia. Alumni and Family Relations Assistant Director Stephanie Snell and Director Eddie Habeck ’99 and M ’10 joined Senior Vice President of Student Affairs and Information Technology Frank Vanecek, alumni Adam Lazar ’05 and Daniel Camburn ’11 and several others in welcoming incoming students and their parents for a what-comes-next information session.

“We hope to encourage more and more women to enter this growing field of study.” Adam Lazar, Norwich University Class of 2005

In past years, Camburn and his wife, Kathy, herself a 2011 alumna, have hosted Philly sendoffs in their southern New Jersey home (supplying the aforementioned living room). They joined other alumni as regional sendoff hosts across the nation and around the world.

This year’s sendoffs moved to Zoom, a videoconferencing platform. In all, Habeck said, 40 U.S. sendoffs have been planned, along with one for international students from nine African nation-states — Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, The Gambia. Habeck, Snell and Assistant Alumni and Family Office Directors Jessica Sicard and Renee Charbonneau ’18 have co-hosted the virtual sendoffs.

Habeck said Zoom widened the events’ potential participation, erasing travel hurdles and allowing for first-time gatherings (in New Mexico, for example). Zoom’s breakout room function let students and parents congregate separately, as they would in person. The new format, as the old, aimed to furnish every year answers — What should I pack? Can we carpool home at Thanksgiving? — and, these days, COVID-19 responses — How will coronavirus safety rules alter the rook experience and campus life?

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In this screenshot, incoming students, alumni and Norwich Alumni Office officials participate in the July 14, 2020, student sendoff on Zoom. (Courtesy Norwich University Alumni and Family Office.)

“(We) wanted to take the most valuable elements … and convert them to a virtual format,” Habeck said.

In Thursday’s session, Snell shared Class of 2024 fun facts. The incoming 822-student class’s collective grade-point average was 3.36 and Corps students will comprise 57% of the class along with 6% commuters and 37% civilians. Sixty-two incoming Class of 2024 students have ROTC scholarships.

In a recorded message, new Norwich President Mark C. Anarumo welcomed the Philadelphia sendoff’s students. He assured them that they’d quickly learn the campus, knowing the Upper Parade Ground as the UP, and benefit from the university’s trademark crucible experience.

“I want to really commend you for making the tough choice,” he said. “All of you could have gone anywhere for college, you’ve chosen to take on the challenge … of coming to Norwich. … (For) students of your generation, it’s already bearing true that if you take the challenge early, you have a lifetime of rewards that will be reaped, during your college experience and upon graduation.”

Seizing resources

In the student breakout session, Lazar encouraged flexibility (because circumstance can dash plans, see: coronavirus disruption), resource seizing (because counsel from professors and the Rev. William Wick can ease adjustment) and academic focus (because, well, that’s what university’s for).

Priorities matter, too, the students were told. Nobody, Vanecek said, gets a boot-shining bachelor’s, no matter how assiduous the polish. He recalled calling out a cadet’s buff during a nighttime barracks study period.

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This year’s virtual sendoffs were designed to spark the camaraderie of past in-person sendoffs, like this one from 2019. (Norwich University Photography.)

“I’m saying, ‘Why are your buffing you shoes?’ (The student answers,) ‘I have a plan.’ How long have you been doing that? Thirty minutes? No,” Vanecek said.

“Do it for 30 seconds, as best as possible,” Vanecek added. “You’re going to get yelled at that they’re wrong whether you spend 30 seconds or 30 minutes. Go sit at your desk and read your chemistry book or something.”

Lazar told the students the Corps experience will set them apart. After following the path less traveled, he said, they’ll emerge ready to lead.

“You’re going to be able to go to your entry-level job and say, ‘I can take on that small project. I can lead that group,” he said. “You’ll be at a severe advantage right out of the chute, no matter what you do after college.”

(Slideshow photos courtesy Norwich Alumni and Family Office)

***

Here’s the complete list of sendoffs by date. The list is also viewable online here.

U.S. SENDOFFS

Already occurred: Greater Philadelphia; San Antonio; Seattle/Tacoma; Ohio/Indiana, Boston, Connecticut.

Virtual sendoffs:

JULY

July 15:
NU Clubs of Northern/Sunapee and Portsmouth/Seacoast (New Hampshire), 6:30 p.m. EDT. Register.

July 16:
New Mexico, 6:30 p.m. MDT. Register.

July 18:
NU Club of Houston, 4 p.m. CST. Register.

July 20:
NU Club of New York City, 6:30 p.m. EDT. Register.

July 21:
NU Club of Western New York, 6:30 p.m. EDT. Register.
NU Club of Northern New Jersey, 6:30 p.m. EDT. Register.

July 22:
NU Club of Rhode Island, 7 p.m. EDT. Register.
NU Clubs of Northern and Southern Alabama/Fort Rucker, 6:30 p.m. CDT. Register.

July 23:
NU Club of Cape Cod, 6:30 p.m. EDT. Register. 
NU Club of Atlanta, 6:30 p.m. EDT. Register.

July 25:
NU Club of Central New York, 4 p.m. EDT. Register.
NU Clubs of Burlington & Central Vermont, 6:30 p.m. EDT. Register.

July 26:
NU Club of Southern California, 4 p.m. PDT. Register.

July 28:
NU Clubs of Burlington and Central Vermont, 6:30 p.m. EDT. Register.
NU Clubs of Raleigh, Western North Carolina and Fayetteville/Fort Bragg, 6:30 p.m. EDT. Register.

July 29:
NU Club of Central Massachusetts, 6:30 p.m. EDT. Register.

July 30:
NU Club of Maine, 6:30 p.m. EDT. Register.

***

AUGUST

Aug. 1:
NU Club of Chicagoland (Illinois), 10 a.m. CDT. Register.

Aug. 2:
NU Club of New Orleans, 10 a.m. CDT. Register.
NU Club of Arizona, 4 p.m. MST. Register.

Aug. 3:
NU Club of Dallas/Fort Worth, 6 p.m. CST. Register.

Aug. 4:
NU Club of the North Shore, 6:30 p.m. EDT. Register. 
NU Clubs of Washington, D.C., and Delaware, 6:30 p.m. EDT. Register.

Aug. 5:
NU Club of Maryland, 6:30 p.m. EDT. Register.
NU Club of Capital District (Albany), 6:30 p.m. EDT. Register.
NU Club of Colorado, 3 p.m. MDT. Register.
NU Clubs of Nashville (Tennessee) and Kentucky, 6 p.m. CDT. Register.

Aug. 6:
NU Club of Western Massachusetts, 6:30 p.m. EDT. Register.
NU Club of Brevard County (Melbourne), Florida, 4 p.m. Register.
NU Clubs of Charleston and the Low Country, South Carolina, 6:30 p.m. EDT. Register.
NU Clubs of Richmond & Tidewater/Hampton, Virginia, 6:30 p.m. EDT. Register.

Aug. 8:
NU Club of the Emerald Coast (Pensacola), Florida, 10 a.m. EDT. Register.
NU Club of Hawaii, 10 a.m. PDT. Register.

Aug. 9:
NU Club of the Upper Valley (Vermont), 3 p.m. EDT. Register.
NU Club of Northern California, 4 p.m. PDT. Register.

***

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Norwich University Perspectives Project: COVID-19

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