Close to 4,800 new students will get their first taste of life at the University of Guelph during Orientation Week, Aug. 30 to Sept. 6.

With the University of Guelph celebrating its 50th anniversary, the theme this year is “Celebrate 50: I am a Gryphon.” Events are planned to introduce first-year students to opportunities available on campus and in the community, including the U of G President’s Welcome, a series of special lectures and a coordinated effort to introduce students to volunteering in Guelph.

“We want new students to develop curiosity and a sense of connection to the history of our institution. We want them to build their own sense of identity as a Gryphon and begin to form ideas around the legacy they want to leave as a Guelph student,” said Rob Routledge, coordinator of Orientation Programs in the Student Life department at Guelph.

This year, there are 300 event planners and 700 volunteers who will be part of Orientation Week. In addition, there are many staff and faculty who volunteer their time to create the more than 500 events that new students will participate in.

Orientation Week begins Saturday, Aug. 30, with residence move-in day. Gordon Street will be closed between Stone Road and College Avenue from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. to accommodate the move-in. New students will get help from other members of the University community. Campus and city police, along with volunteers, will assist with directing traffic.

At 12:30 p.m., 2:30 and 4:30 p.m., U of G president Franco Vaccarino will offer students and families an official welcome to the campus community. He will be joined in Rozanski Hall by Brenda Whiteside, associate vice-president (student affairs), and representatives from the Central Student Association and the Centre for New Students.

Saturday evening, students will have an introduction to their residence or off-campus community groups and their first dinner at Guelph. This will be followed by icebreakers and a residence hall or community game.

On Sunday, Aug. 31, students will be going out into the community as part of an event called Experience Guelph. Students will choose from various volunteer activities, including park and street clean-ups, a food drive, protecting newly-planted trees by the river, and increasing the visibility of recycling containers on campus.

“During Experience Guelph, each first-year student will make one small difference in the community. New students will be introduced to the cultural expectation at Guelph that being involved in something outside of the classroom is a necessary complement to classroom learning,” said Routledge.

Guelphfest, a mini-music festival that includes comedy and other variety acts, will follow on Sunday evening.

Labour Day has a number of events on-campus and throughout Guelph, including tours of the city, picnics and a scavenger hunt.

On Sept. 2, students will attend the first meetings of their academic programs, where they will learn about their field of study. That will be followed by a pep rally and the OV (Orientation Volunteers) Boogie, which begins at 6 p.m. in Alumni Stadium.

The highlight Sept. 3 will be the President’s Welcome and luncheon for first-year students. An official induction ceremony will be held in the Gryphon Field House at 12:30 p.m. It includes bagpipes, an academic procession and an address by both the president and chancellor, with alumni attending to welcome new students. That evening, the student association hosts an Orientation Week concert.

Sept. 4 is the first day of classes, and Sept. 5 features classes, a hypnotist show, one-act play festival and carnival on Johnston Green.Sept. 6 is the first home game of the Gryphon football season, with Guelph playing host to the University of Toronto.

“Orientation Week sets the foundation for students’ successful transition into University,” said Routledge. “As a community, we work to help instill a feeling of belonging and connection with new students, and provide them with tips and resources they will need in their first year. Orientation creates an environment that helps students feel safe, welcome and ready to succeed.”

For a full list of Orientation Week events, visit or search on Twitter for the hashtag #iamagryphon.