Montana State University

MSU kicks off events to welcome students to campus, help them get involved

August 23, 2016 -- By Jodi Hausen for the MSU News Service

Members of the MSU community tour exhibits on the campus mall during Catapalooza. Catapalooza is part of MSU Debut – a series of 13 events that are designed to introduce MSU freshmen to their new community and help them succeed in college. MSU photo by Abbey Nelson.

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Tel: (406) 994-4571

Welcome BBQ - Romney OvalB: Wednesday, August 24 - 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Catapalooza - Centennial Mall: Thursday, August 25-26 - 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

First Floor Programs - Residence Halls: Thursday, August 25 - after dinner around 7:00 p.m.

Target Shuttle - Pick up at North and South Hedges and Johnstone Hall: Thursday, August 25 - 9:30 p.m.

Movie on the Wall - Romney Oval: Friday, August 26 - 8:00 p.m.

SUBTACULAR - Strand Union Building: Saturday, August 27 - 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.

M Photo - Bobcat Stadium: Saturday, August 27 - 6:30 p.m.

Legend of the Bobcat - Strand Union Building: Saturday, August 27 - 7:30 - 11 p.m.

Welcome "Ask Me" Tent - Centennial Mall: Monday, August 29 - Tuesday, August 30 - 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Rec Sports Amazing Race - Hosaeus Fitness Center Lobby: Tuesday, August 30, Registration - 5:30 - 6:00 p.m., Race starts at 6:00 p.m. SHARP.

Convocation - Fieldhouse: Thursday, September 1 - 6:45 p.m.

Convocation Service Saturday - SUB South Entrance: Saturday, September 10, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Cat Kick-Off Party - Kagy Practice Fields: Saturday, September 10, 12:00 - 2:00 p.m.

BOZEMAN – This fall Montana State University will kick off the school year with the launch of MSU Debut, a series of events from Aug. 24 through Sept. 10 that are designed to introduce freshmen to their new community and help them succeed in college.

MSU Debut’s 13 signature events range from a welcome barbecue to an adventure race to a tailgate before Gold Rush on Sept. 10, the first home football game of the season.

Chelsey Wilson, MSU student engagement and leadership adviser, said this is the first year the university has coordinated various welcoming events the first few weeks of school. In previous years, events had been offered independently by several campus entities. Wilson, along with Isaac Hunter, resident director of Yellowstone Hall, pulled the events together into MSU Debut this year.

Wilson said that helping freshmen develop competence in interpersonal relationships, career and lifestyle choices, wellness, civic responsibility and reaction to diversity in activities such as MSU Debut are key to their success at the university. Evidence suggests that college students are more likely to succeed when their education goes beyond academics to address a multitude of other skills, Wilson said.

MSU Debut is designed to meet those needs by guiding freshmen to consult academic advisers, learn how to find answers to their questions and interact on social, civic and academic levels. Early events are intentionally small and personal, Wilson said. As the week progresses, events transition to larger, social events.

On Thursday, Aug. 25, for example, freshmen can attend Resident Life First Floor events at their residence halls – informal gatherings where students meet their resident advisers and neighbors. On Saturday, Aug. 27, the Strand Union Building will host Subtacular and, later, Legend of the Bobcat – a dance party including free food, movies, bowling, billiards and more.

The following week students can visit with MSU President Waded Cruzado at the Ask Me Tent and participate in the Fitness Center Amazing Race. MSU Convocation, set Sept. 1 and featuring Wes Moore, acclaimed author of “The Work, My Search for a Life That Matters,” is also a signature MSU Debut event. The public is invited to MSU Convocation.

After the first full week of classes, students are invited to volunteer for Convocation Service Saturday on Sept. 10, followed by a Cat Kick-Off Tailgate party —events that tie MSU to the larger Bozeman community.

Chris Kearns, MSU vice president for student success, said that students often face struggles during the transition from high school to college. MSU Debut is intended to help alleviate many of those struggles by setting a common language and communicating expectations.

“Freshmen may have the notion they have more free time now,” he said. “But no one's going to tell you every morning to go to classes. No one's going to manage your study schedule each evening. As a new college student, these are responsibilities we can help you with, but you must ultimately assume them for yourself. MSU Debut's events are designed to help with this transition by building bridges from students' high school identities to their new community using new skills.”

Students make critical, potentially life-changing decisions during the first six weeks of college, Kearns added, and noted there is a steep learning curve. Providing freshmen with guidance through the MSU Debut experiences should help decrease that slope, he said.

“We don't want to throw students into a strange new country without a map and guide,” he said. “Because the territory, without it, can be overwhelming.”

MSU Debut is the collaborative effort of many individuals, both on and off campus.

“We are all stakeholders in the success of our students,” Hunter said. “Getting students involved and connected to the community makes the college experience that much better and their chances of success that much greater.”

“I’m so proud of our campus and larger Bozeman community for pulling together to make MSU Debut a success,” Wilson said. “This is proof that we all genuinely care about our students and can’t wait to welcome the class of 2020 to their new home.”

For more information about MSU Debut, visit

Contact: Chris Kearns, (406) 994-2828 or; or Chelsey Wilson, (406) 994-5821 or