homar Michael '26 Holds Sign Welcoming the Incoming Students
Campus News

Dillard Welcomes the Class of 2027

The start of the fall semester began when Dillard University welcomed the class of 2027 to The Oaks for Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR) activities starting Wednesday, August 9, through Sunday, August 13, ahead of students’ first day of class on Monday, August 14.

During the SOAR experience, faculty, staff, and student leaders introduced incoming students to critical services and opportunities. They also met influential members of the Dillard community who can assist in confirming their college choice and help students begin forging a connection to the University. 


With assistance from their families, student-leaders, faculty, and staff, incoming students moved into Camphor, Hartzell, Williams, and Straight Halls. They transformed their dorm rooms into personalized spaces with decorative touches such as unique wall art, posters, photographs, tapestries, string lights, decorative mirrors, and small plants.

Parting Ceremony

The Parting Ceremony has been a tradition since 1998, featuring African drummers and dancers to symbolize the heartbeat of the village, supporting the students as they begin their next chapter at Dillard University. The Ceremony is the final activity that parents participate in with students. It symbolizes the transition into the next chapter as the student learns to stand independently, and the parent offers support from a distance. It is often emotional for families, students, staff, and faculty. 

Dr. Tusha’ Hamilton, assistant professor of Biology, advised the Class of 2027, “Speak up for yourselves, use the campus resources that are available, and take care of yourself.”

Blair Condoll, assistant professor of Political Science, told the incoming class, “God wants you to prosper. You, too, must want to prosper because faith without works is dead.” 

Rachel Washington Mercadel ‘75 represented the matriarchs of the Dillard village with more than 30 years of service to the University. She offered words of wisdom to the parents/guardians and students. Mrs. Mercadel said, “Be not fearful of leaving your son or daughter, your grandson, granddaughter, your niece, your nephew. Rest assured, many generations in this village will polish your gems by offering direction and guidance.”

The parents/guardians recited a prayer that uplifted and expressed their love and support for their students. “Help me to give support and confidence to discern how I am needed now and to pass on, in my love, a measure of the strength and courage you have given me in the gift of parenting.” Following the reading of the prayer, a Dillard University pin was adhered to the student and their family as new members of the Dillard village. 

Many alumni watched via livestream to provide the class of 2027 with their well wishes and support as they embark on their college journey.

The Start of the Semester 

The campus has come alive with the hustle and bustle of students walking to class, Greek organizations chanting at the flagpole, and sitting on the benches that line the Avenue of the Oaks. 

During the University Convocation on August 17, Lena Uddyback ’24, SGA President, provided the Class of 2027 with tips she learned at Dillard. Ms. Uddyback encouraged the first-year students to attend class and connect with their professors and classmates. She discussed the importance of a solid support system to support the students with words of encouragement when things get rough. Lastly, she stressed the importance of God. Ms. Uddyback wraps up her tips by saying, “There are those moments when you have to walk alone. Guess who’s always going to be available to listen? God.”  

President Ford stood before the crowd in Lawless Memorial Chapel. In her remarks, she spoke to the University community about believing in their mission and purpose. She cites the book of Proverbs from the Holy Bible, which states, “Without vision, the people will perish.” Dr. Ford encourages the Class of 2027 to get to know themselves to determine their mission and purpose. “To know your mission, you must know who you are. You have to know and be ready to have an attitude that when you fail, you will fail forward.”