A woman pulls a large wheeling cart filled with belongings up a hill on the Cornell University

Move-In ’23 in Pictures: Students Make Homes on the Hill

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Thousands of new and returning Cornellians (and their families) converged on campus to launch the fall semester

By Lindsay Lennon

The on-and-off rainy weather couldn’t dampen the spirits of thousands of incoming Cornellians as they flocked to their new homes on the Hill in mid-August. Over the course of five days, hundreds of staff volunteers assisted the new class of first-years and transfers—as well as returning students—in checking in, getting their shiny new ID cards and room keys, navigating the campus, and hauling belongings to their residence halls.

(About a quarter of new students had arrived earlier, opting to join a wide selection of pre-Orientation activities and projects—from outdoor excursions to community service.)

Willard Straight Hall at Cornell University with a large red and white banner that reads Welcome to Cornell hanging over the entrance door.
A Willard Straight welcome.

For incoming students, the first stop was the nearby Shops at Ithaca Mall, where a former DSW shoe store had been transformed into a massive Big Red welcome and check-in center—festooned with balloons, stacks of free swag, and several photo spots (including a carnival-style cut-out featuring Touchdown the Bear).

Students, most with family members in tow, then headed over to their residence halls, co-ops, and program houses, where they filled rolling carts to the brim with boxes and supplies and moved into their rooms and suites.

Later, many made their way to the Cornell Store to stock up on Big Red gear. Groups stopped for selfies as they took in the Ithaca vistas—some for the very first time.

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With Move-In and Orientation now a multi-day affair, the week was replete with tours, receptions, parties, and more—from the Big Red Welcome Fest on Ho Plaza to family receptions and coffee socials at the Straight.

The massive undertaking was capped off by an official welcome from President Martha Pollack, who addressed the matriculating Cornellians at New Student Convocation.

The event, held at Schoellkopf Field, also featured performances by the Big Red Marching Band and Cornell Cheer.

A person in a bear costume stands with arms outstretched in front of a large crowd of students sitting in bleachers at a sports stadium at Cornell University.
Touchdown, a paws-itively perennial presence, wows the crowd at Convocation.

Pollack’s remarks included noting that attendees were entering the University during its first-ever theme year: “The Indispensable Condition: Freedom of Expression at Cornell.”

“You will never find a better place than Cornell to open your minds and fill them, to sail away from the shore of the comfortable and known, and find what is different, what will challenge you,” Pollack said. “You are here to develop the courage and the competence to take on the world in all its complexity.”

Top: Moving in on West Campus. All images by Cornell University photographers Lindsay France, Noël Heaney, Sreang Hok, Jason Koski, and Ryan Young.

Published August 25, 2023


  1. Fred Teichman, Class of 1974

    My parents brought me to a campus I had never seen. (Interviewed with alumnus outside Philadelphia. No such thing as a virtual tour yet.) Went to CollegeTown to open bank account. Met another freshman from down the hall in West Campus Bldg #1 and we played tennis most of the afternoon while everyone else moved in. What I call an easy transition into college life.

  2. Mark R Vogelgesang, Class of 1977

    I moved in for orientation in August ’74. I had graduated from high school in ’70. I bounced around three other schools for 4 years and started at Cornell as just a second semester sophomore. Due to my unique circumstances, I may have been the only student moving in that had a car and didn’t have my family there to help me. I had become somewhat of an expert on orientation programs in that this was my fourth stop. Thankfully, I found Cornell.

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