This weekend, along with our new transfer and graduate students, we will welcome more than 2,600 freshmen to our campus. They will enter a community of scholars and more than 127,000 alumni, representing more than 125 years of tradition, ingenuity and innovation, all unified by our motto of “Progress and Service.”

At Convocation, I typically challenge the freshmen to take advantage of new opportunities, to question and explore the world around them, and to embrace their passion. The saying “you only get out what you put in” holds true here at Tech; experience has shown that those who get the most out of their college experience are those who complement their academic pursuits with service, cultural, social, athletic and leisure activities. In this way, everyone in our community can experience first-hand what it truly means to be a Yellow Jacket.

As these new members of our community join us, what will they find?

Because the culture is formed by its people and its values, I am confident that they will find a community invested in fostering the success of its members.

They will find a community comprised of highly motivated individuals who are focused on the highest ideals of integrity and a focus on excellence. It’s a community comprised of individuals who, when they see a problem, feel compelled to seek not just a solution, but the best solution.

Tech is a first choice for the best and brightest. In turn, the standards we set for ourselves are equally high. This symbiotic relationship yields impressive results, exemplified by the new Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons—a facility that grew out of conversations between students and the administration about what the educational experience at Tech should look like.

The completion of this marvelous facility two weeks ago is an achievement of which we can all be proud.

They will find a community with a penchant for innovation and entrepreneurship, inspired to have an impact that improves the human condition. But inspiration is just a starting point. Through events such as Ideas to SERVE, Computing for Good and the InVenture Prize, as well as numerous other outreach and service opportunities, we are able to educate students about the process that moves ideas from identification to implementation.

Many universities make sweeping claims about entrepreneurship, but results speak for themselves. During the past year, 41 percent of Tech inventors were graduate or undergraduate students, and 80 percent of our invention disclosures listed at least one student as a co-inventor.

They will find a community focused on leadership and community and on the success of all of those in our community. When a student is admitted to Tech, it is based on the belief that he or she can be successful here. At the same time, we cannot ask students to challenge themselves without also providing the shelter and support necessary to weather the hard times they may encounter.

Our network of support is both deep and wide. It cannot be easily summarized, but a great starting point is within the new Clough Commons, where students now find centralized, ready access to services such as academic advising, tutoring and technology.

That’s quite an evolution from 1888, when we had 87 students, two buildings and only one degree program. To achieve our aspiration to be the technological research university of the future, however, we must continually recreate our educational experience and improve the sense of community to both anticipate and shape our future.

The enduring set of values set forth in our 25-year strategic plan—integrity, excellence, impact, innovation, entrepreneurship, leadership and community—has helped establish our international reputation for progress and service. They form the core of our institutional ethos and create a common thread in planning for the Institute’s future.

All of us at Tech welcome our new students and faculty. You are the new problem solvers, the next step in shaping our culture and our future. As such, you reinforce who we are and challenge us to be even better. My hope is you will view Tech as a partner, providing the tools, the expertise and the opportunity in both setting and achieving your goals and helping the Institute to reach those outlined in our strategic plan.