A view of the matriculation ceremony from the back of the stage, with students and faculty seated in chairs on the Bicentennial Plaza

Allegheny College Welcomes the Class of 2026

Allegheny College welcomed students in the Class of 2026 at today’s academic convocation and matriculation ceremony on the Bicentennial Plaza near historic Bentley Hall.

Allegheny President Hilary L. Link, Ph.D., addressed the new students, who represent 242 high schools, 29 states, and 16 countries.

“Know that Allegheny will give you the tools, the opportunities, the contacts, the research experience, the mentoring, and the sense of self to become the citizens, and the leaders, our world needs now more than ever,” Link told students. “To be someone who understands different modes of thinking and living and learning and being. To be someone who can examine the world through multiple perspectives and employ that ability to overcome perplexity and solve problems. To be someone who stands up to do what is right and has the skills and experience and knowledge to lead others to do the same. Your Allegheny education will transform you, as it has done for our tens of thousands of alumni since we opened our doors back in 1815.”

A line of students processes to the Matriculation ceremony. Students in the front hold a blue and yellow banner with "2026."Approximately 51 percent of students in the Class of 2026 hail from outside of Pennsylvania, compared to 58 percent who were from out of state in last year’s incoming class. Students from Ohio and New York account for 12 percent and 11 percent of the Class of 2026, respectively. Twenty-one percent of students in the new class are first-generation college students, and 25 percent of students in the Class of 2026 identify as students of color.

First-year Class Dean Niki Fjeldal, Ed.D., also addressed students during the ceremony. She encouraged students to explore new interests, ask for help, and build community by making new friends.

“Remember, you are not on this journey alone, in life or at Allegheny,” Fjeldal said. “I’m here for you every step of the way, and so is everyone else, to make sure that you have the support you need to realize your goals, think critically and creatively, and meet the challenges of our diverse, interconnected world.”

As first-year class dean, Fjeldal connects students with resources and activities, helps them to set and fulfill goals, and provides advising and support as they transition to college.

The event also included remarks by Associate Professor of Environmental Science & Sustainability Beth Choate, Ph.D., Allegheny Student Government (ASG) President Veronica Green, and Student Honor Committee Chair Raegan Myers.

Provost and Dean of the Faculty Angela Haddad, Ph.D., who joined the Allegheny community in August, introduced Choate, who received the College’s 2022 Thoburn Award for Excellence in Teaching. Choate challenged students to take an active role in their learning at Allegheny.

Along with advising students to attend and speak up in class, she encouraged them to get to know not only their classmates but also their professors. “College requires participation — and frankly, it’s a lot more fun and fulfilling if you are actively engaging in the educational process,” Choate said.

Choate also told students that Allegheny faculty are eager to help students understand the concepts they’re discussing in class. “Once you start going into a professor’s office, each time it becomes a little bit easier,” she said, “so that by the time you are in your second year and need to declare your major, walking into a professor’s office and asking them to be your academic advisor is easy.”

Green, the ASG president, is a political science major who is double minoring in Arabic and Middle East and North African studies. She urged new students to make the most of their time at Allegheny. “You have the ability to get involved here and make an impact on this campus for the betterment of yourself and others,” said Green, who also served as an orientation leader for the Class of 2026.

A traditional part of the matriculation ceremony is the students’ pledge to adhere to the Allegheny Honor Code, which was initiated and developed by students nearly six decades ago. It is still voted upon by the student body every three years to ensure that each class has an opportunity to pledge their commitment to the Honor Code. “By taking this oath, you have preserved a 58-year bond between faculty and students, and we are more than thrilled to welcome you into it,” said Myers, the Student Honor Committee chair.

The academic convocation and matriculation ceremony concluded with what is expected to become a new tradition. After the singing of the College’s Alma Mater, the Class of 2026 processed from Bicentennial Plaza to Bentley Hall’s south entrance, through the building, and onto Brooks Walk, which was lined on both sides by Allegheny faculty in their academic regalia. At their Commencement ceremony in four years, the class will take the reverse path, walking together on Brooks Walk, through Bentley’s north entrance, and onto the plaza for their graduation.

The academic convocation and matriculation ceremony is among the activities during Gator Week of Welcome, a week-long event that combines academic and social programming to welcome new and returning students to campus. The Gator Week of Welcome activities lead up to the start of fall semester classes on Tuesday, Aug. 30.