Thursday was a sunny afternoon fit for ice cream and, conveniently, University President Mark Schlissel was serving.
Students and parents lined South University Avenue and the hallways of the newly renovated President’s House for a chance to grab a snack and snap a picture with the University’s new president, who assumed office in July. Students were informed about the event via e-mail the day before the event on Aug. 27.
At the back of the residence, Schlissel and his wife, Monica Schwebs — who moved into the historic residence at 815 S. University this week — greeted guests in the backyard at the end of a long receiving line. People strolled around the green, sampling maize & blue cookies, an assortment of ice cream bars and cider from stations staffed by University Catering. A shorter line offered a chance to sign the 2-foot-thick President’s House guest book.
The constant stream of guests kept Schlissel tied up for the event's entirety.
“We think this is probably the most people who have ever come,” said E. Royster Harper, vice president for Student Life. “A lot of new students, transfer students, international students, a few juniors and seniors, but really a lot of first year students and parents.”
In previous years, President Emerita Mary Sue Coleman hosted similar open houses after the New Student Convocation, which will take place on Aug. 29 this year. Though the date change landed in the middle of dorm move in, the student turn out still exceeded that of Coleman’s final open house last year.
“He wanted this event early so he could meet students while they have time and to meet parents who are still here,” Harper said.
Schlissel has spent the recent weeks touring campus to meet with members of the community in advance of his presidential inauguration, which is scheduled for Sept. 5.
At the exit, Engineering senior Erin Aldernik said, “It was nice to shake his hand, take a picture with him, get some free food. I’m excited to see what he does.”
Music, Theater & Dance freshman Matt Sina and his parents were pleasantly surprised that a school as large as the University would host such an event.
“I definitely know that he doesn't’ have to do this, so I genuinely appreciate it,” Sina said.