Willamette University, Students at the Mill Stream

Writer Johah Lehrer gives opening Convocation, welcomes class of 2014

LehrerMugShot According to science journalist Jonah Lehrer, who gave the 2010 opening convocation lecture Aug. 27, college is about more than just memorizing facts or filling your head with new thoughts — it's about learning how to think in the first place.

Among Lehrer's keys to the undergraduate experience, all backed up by neuroscience and experience:

  • Be "an outsider" and work on problems beyond your specialty because problems can often be solved better that way
  • Learn how to relax intellectually because an easy mind is a more productive and innovative one
  • Broaden relationships and seek out people different than you are

"Don't be afraid of being a lonely poet in a chemistry lecture," he added.

Lehrer, author of How We Think, a neurological account of human decision-making, has been called "an important new thinker" by the Los Angeles Times and "a popular science prodigy" by The New York Times.

Incoming classes

College of Liberal Arts

The 432 first-year College of Liberal Arts students and 47 transfer students and their families arrived on campus Thursday, Aug. 26, for the five-day Opening Days orientation, leading up to the first day of classes on Aug. 31.

They came from the largest applicant pool in Willamette's history — more than 8,000 — and made it through a tougher field than ever before, with only 42% of applicants being admitted.

Before Opening Days began, 81 new students participated in Jump Start, a five-day pre-orientation program that allowed them to get to know each other in smaller groups while participating in activities related to their interests in community service, the outdoors or multicultural issues.

Graduate schools

Willamette's three graduate programs also started classes this month:

  • The College of Law welcomed 161 first-year law students. The new class is 44% female, 19% multicultural and the students come from 89 undergraduate institutions. Their median LSAT score is 156, and they are one of the strongest classes in the college's history.
  • Atkinson Graduate School of Management has 97 new MBA students, plus seven exchange students. The students come from 20 states and 19 countries. The MBA for Professionals programs in Portland and Salem also have strong classes, which start in September.
  • The Graduate School of Education had 78 new MAT students — 56 in the full-time program and 22 in the part-time program. Their average undergraduate GPA is 3.2, and just over 25% are Willamette College of Liberal Arts alumni. The school also welcomes 12 new students in its MEd program.