During the Saturday night (Sept. 6) downpour, brought on by tropical storm Hannah, a circuit breaker tripped, plunging Adams House into darkness. While Harvard electricians tracked down the problem, freshmen were sent over to the Science Center for food, movies, and an impromptu meeting with President Drew Faust. So at Opening Exercises the following afternoon, Faust greeted the Class of 2012 with the camaraderie of a fellow sufferer: “This is billed as my welcome speech to the Class of 2012 but it turns out instead to be a chance for me to say, ‘Hello again.’”
And Faust found another silver lining to those thunderclouds. “The disruptions, the adrenaline rush, the inconvenience of last night’s events probably had the effect of distracting you from other anxieties that customarily well up within freshmen and their parents at this moment each year.”
The 1,666 students were also welcomed by Dean of Freshmen Thomas A. Dingman, College Dean Evelynn Hammonds, Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith, and senior Sarah Lockridge-Steckel. Gathered in Tercentenary Theatre under sunny skies and on rain-soaked grounds, the students, their families, and the occasional passing tourist who stopped to listen, heard Harvard’s leaders offer the freshmen challenges, opportunities, and a handful of stories about those who had come before them.
As the Kuumba Singers of Harvard College serenaded them, the freshmen gathered on the steps of Widener Library for their class photo. As they joked and goofed for the camera, few probably realized that it wouldn’t be until June 2012 before they’d gather like that again.