ORONO, Maine — The hallways and stairwells of Oxford Hall resembled the tunnels of an anthill as the Class of 2014 moved into the dorm at the University of Maine on Friday. Similar activity took place at buildings across the campus where first-year students will be living for the next nine months.
Kasey Leach, 19, of Wallingford, Conn., said the move-in process went well.
“But I think I overpacked,” the psychology major said as she took her clothes out of a blue plastic tote and put them in dresser drawers. “No, I know I overpacked. But I live too far away to call Mom and have her bring what I need from Connecticut.”
Kasey is the first child Jennifer Leach has moved out of her home to attend college.
“It’s quite an experience,” she said. “Kind of bittersweet.”
Amos Dean, 18, of Mapleton packed a little lighter but did bring a flat-screen TV and a video game system with him. Dean, a forestry major, said he already had been away from home a week at the Tanglewood 4-H Camp and Learning Center in Lincolnville, where he participated in a program for incoming forestry students.
“It was great,” Dean said. “Every day we did something different outdoors to learn about different aspects of the industry.”
First-year students and their families were assisted Friday by 800 older students who volunteered to take part in the traditional “Maine Hello” welcome program.
“This was, as Maine Hello Friday always is, a red-letter day at the University of Maine,” Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Robert Dana said in a press release. “This is a warm, welcoming, student-centered community and that is never more evident than when people turn out in force to make the newest members of that community feel at home.”
Kasey Leach is one of 1,837 first-year students at UMaine this year, according to UM spokesman Joe Carr. That is an increase of 2 percent over last year’s class, which numbered 1,803, a drop from 2,094 in the fall of 2008.
There are 1,454 in-state students in the class, nine more than last year, Carr said in a press release issued Friday, and 383 out-of-state students, a 21 percent increase over the 358 in 2009.
The mean SAT score in the incoming class is 1077, an 11-point increase from last year, Susan Hunter, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, said in the press release.
“I regard these numbers as good news,” she said. “The number of Maine students is holding steady even while demographic issues challenge all Maine colleges and universities, suggesting widespread appreciation for the quality and value of this university.
“Moreover, the out-of-state increase means that more people are recognizing the attributes, particularly the strong academic programs, that make UMaine an outstanding choice for anybody seeking a dynamic, rewarding university experience,” Hunter said.
Two out-of-state students — Whitney Callahan, 17, of Rockport, Mass., and Kelly Graham, 18, of Merrimack, N.H. — decided to room together earlier this summer when they met at a weekend orientation. Both are enrolled in the nursing program.
They kept in touch and consulted each other on what to bring and how to decorate the room. The pair chose hot-pink and lime-green curtains, rugs, comforters and storage bins. Even their plastic hangers matched the color scheme.
Both young women were familiar with the state before deciding to attend UMaine. Graham’s parents are alumni. Her mother, Lisa Graham, graduated in 1983 with a degree in speech communications, and her father, Peter Graham, graduated in 1981 with a business degree.
“We were from Bangor and lived at home while going to school,” Lisa Graham said as her daughter continued to unpack. “We’re happy she’s going to get that experience of living on campus.”
The rest of the student body who reside on campus will return over the weekend, according to Carr. Classes are scheduled to begin Monday.
The projected total enrollment for fall is 11,255, according to Carr. Forty-seven states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands will be represented in the UMaine student population, along with 77 countries, he said.
Preliminary enrollment figures from other campuses in the University of Maine System were not available Friday, but first-year students began moving into their dorms Thursday at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, according to information on its website.
While first-year students were moving into dorms on the Orono campus Friday, parents also were helping freshmen move in at the University of Maine at Machias. The same process will take place today at the University of Maine at Farmington and the University of Southern Maine. First-year students at the University of Maine at Fort Kent will move in Monday.
Classes at all campuses except UMFK and UMF will begin Monday. Classes on those campuses will begin Wednesday.
Unity College’s student move-in will be held from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday.