Gustavus Welcomes Class of 2024Social distancing, masks, and the indomitable Gustie Spirit set the tone for the beginning of a historic year on the hill.
Posted on September 1st, 2020 by

Social distancing and masks didn't stop the Gustie Greeters from enthusiastically welcoming the Class of 2024.

Near-perfect weather greeted the Gustavus Adolphus College Class of 2024 as students arrived on the hilltop campus overlooking the Minnesota River Valley on Sunday, August 30, eager to begin their journey as college students despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Caution mixed with excitement as students moved belongings into residence halls while social distancing and greeting their new roommates through masks. No matter the circumstances, this was still the first official day of Gustavus residency for the Class of 2024, and a pandemic couldn’t dampen it.

In some logistical ways, it was actually a little easier. Most students had already moved in their belongings in the preceding days and weeks, allowing for quick 15-minute drop-offs—less sweat and chaos, more time to soak in the campus, get to know their new classmates, and exchange lingering goodbyes with their families.

“I like it. So far it’s less stressful. Mostly it’s clothes and food and odds and ends and people know where to go,” said Eric Manuel ‘21, who was part of a bare-bones crew helping direct folks at Norelius Hall.

Gus the Lion poses for a move-in day photo with two new Gusties.

Families moved in smaller items and shored up final details. “Two weeks ago, there were 12 of us families moving in on campus.” said parent Barb Juelich (Vadnais Heights), mother of first-year student Mary Juelich ‘24. They came back with her for the small stuff. “I like that it’s a limited move-in,” Mary’s father, Jim, added. And he likes that Gustavus is allowing first-years to live together on campus. “[This class] made do with the end of the last school year, and it was a long summer.”

“Yeah, some parents are more ready for this semester than their kids,” Barb said. 

Despite the changes, Gustie Greeters were out in full force. Move-in day wouldn’t be the same without them, though they were six feet apart and sometimes chanting, “I say social, you say distance!” Asked about the new cheer, the response was simple: “Greeters gonna greet,” they said. 

Tyler Gravem ’24 (Cambridge) drove himself to his first official day, bringing a handful of last items to his third-floor room. He hadn’t yet met his roommate, but they’ve been talking via social media all year, like many in the Class of 2024. “It’s fun. I’m kind of excited,” he said. A pitcher on the baseball team, he has also met some of his teammates already. His answer to what he’s most looking forward to is a timeless one for Gustie athletes: “Baseball.”

During a virtual welcome, President Rebecca M. Bergman greeted the Class of 2024. “We are dedicated to you as students—to provide you with excellence in academics and a wide variety of co-curricular activities. Most importantly we are dedicated to providing you with a home where you can feel safe, make new friends, and get involved in the life of the College,” she said.

“By working together as a community, we can make this work for the entire fall semester,” President Bergman added after reviewing some COVID-19 safety tips. “Thank you for doing your part. Remember that Gusties ROAR—Respect Others and Act Responsibly.”

After the welcome, first-year orientation began in earnest as students met with their Greeter Groups, got to know one another, and explored the campus. In addition to traditional orientation activities like small group meetings and introductions to various campus services, new technologies were incorporated, including use of the Guidebook App and a virtual multi-day campus scavenger hunt using GooseChase.

The College’s namesake masked up for move-in day.

“It was definitely took some creative problem-solving to rework both training and orientation, but watching all of our hard work come to fruition has been one of the most rewarding things to come out of my Gustavus experience,” Gustie Greeter coordinator Tori Franciosi ’21 said.

“Orientation kicked off well! We have seen and heard all of the positive interactions our Greeters and first years have been having,” Gustie Greeter coordinator Lawrence Hiquiana ’21 added. “We all went into this training and orientation knowing that we would need to be creative and accepting of change, and because of this I think this special group of Greeters has done a wonderful job introducing the new class to life on the hill in this crazy time.”

On Tuesday, students will meet with their First-Term Seminar (FTS) or Three Crowns Curriculum professors, who will serve as their academic advisors as the students begin their academic journey at Gustavus. Classes, which will take place online for the first three and a half weeks with the exception of FTS/CUR-100, officially begin on Wednesday, September 2.

As the Gustavus Class of 2024 prepares to launch into the Gustavus experience, students know that this semester is a special one—set against the backdrop of a pandemic, with new safety measures in place and a limited number of on-campus residents to start the year. And yet, the overwhelming feeling is one of excitement and anticipation.

“It’s a weird way to start college, but it’s weird for all of us,” Kathleen Grube ’24 (south Minneapolis) said. “You look around and think, ‘That could be my best friend in a few years.’ We’ll bond in different ways.”

with reporting by Stephanie Ash


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad



  1. Pat Reece says:

    My granddaughter started her journey on Sunday! I am so excited for her and the wonderful things that are coming her way! The campus is beautiful and she loves it so far! I wish all the students good luck rhis year!


    I hope my daughter loves GAC as much as I did!

  3. Joelle Olson Bass says:

    I still have such fond memories of Gustavus!! I was in the graduating class of 1974, so it has been awhile for sure! Starting that first year out, knowing only my roommate from the same high school, it was a new, special, slightly scary and challenging task at hand, to think we all were starting out on a special journey taking us toward the goals we had for shaping the rest of our lives.
    I was a Nursing major who really had my first 2 years on campus at that time. (I am in total favor of staying on campus the full 4 years, as the Nursing majors do now. Getting up early in the morning is hard for your clinicals in the Minneapolis area, but you maintain the college events and your friendships with other majors besides just Nursing majors, instead of being isolated off campus those last 2 years, as we were!) The songs of Gustavus remind me of special events with others in the dorm sharing news of becoming engaged, etc. I think of sharing in St Lucia events and arriving at President Barth’s home in the early AM after caroling through the dorms, singing the St Lucia carol. I remember rushing for sororities in our sophomore year in the fall and the joy of finding your pledge response shoved under your door from the sorority that chose you on pledge day. The friendships made can last a lifetime, if you choose for that to happen. I have a very special friend, I don’t see often, but we text fairly often, and if I need her she is always there for me.
    But the professors are special and you will have your favorites for sure. Those special professors really make learning a joy and you enjoy the challenge of learning.
    I am envious of all you new students in the class of 2024. I would return in a heartbeat to Gustavus for its challenges of learning, its wonderful memories and unique events and the special friendships you will talk about for years to come. “Remember the times we have had here!”