What's better than a pancake breakfast, served outside, on a beautiful September morning? Easy: A free breakfast, served up by smiling faculty, deans, and other staff volunteers from New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT).
NJIT President Robert A. Altenkirch was there at the start of the 8 a.m. pancake breakfast, and he was still greeting students when the last stack was devoured at 10 a.m.
“It’s always nice to get out and welcome the students and see what they think about the onset of the semester,” said Altenkirch, as he stood before the serving table, a smile and a handshake extended to any student in his reach. “Overall, the students I spoke with seemed serious and focused academically.”
No one was counting, but administrators suspect that some 800 pancakes - replete with syrup, orange juice and coffee - were consumed by the students, who seemed impressed with Altenkirch’s warmth and affability. Under an umbrellaed table, Oluwaseun Olarinre, a freshman majoring in computer engineering, sat eating his complimentary breakfast.
“It’s great that the president of the university is out getting to meet and know the students on a personal level,” said Olarinre, who is from Nigeria. “I’m looking forward to studying hard and getting good grades this semester.”
Tyler Auten, a freshman, nervously approached Altenkirch and introduced himself. Altenkirch asked him about his major – information technology – and where he was from – Montville, and the two chatted for awhile about Montville.
Olarinre and Auten number among 775 freshmen students to arrive this fall at NJIT - the second largest freshmen class in the history of the university. The freshmen are from 11 states and various foreign countries such as Brazil, Romania, Spain, India, Pakistan and Nigeria. More than half of the freshmen will live in NJIT dormitories.
The most popular majors chosen by the freshmen were architecture, mechanical engineering and computer engineering. A quarter of the students ranked in the top tenth of their high school classes and most had composite SAT scores between 1020 and 1220.
The Albert Dorman Honors College at NJIT, which enrolled 143 freshmen, has even higher standards. Dorman freshmen average 1305 on the SAT and ranked in the top 15 percent of their high school classes. Seventeen are enrolled in the accelerated medical or dental programs. Dorman offers enriched coursework and seminars as well as real-world projects with respected faculty researchers and industry leaders.
The freshmen, in addition to all students, arrived at a campus with a redesigned campus green, a resurfaced athletics field and the completion of an $83.5 million building project. That project includes the 190,000-square-foot Campus Center, the six-story East Building and a 12,000-square-foot piazza.