Olivet Celebrates Community During First Weeks of the Fall 2019 Semester

Campus wide events provide a strong foundation for a spirit-filled and fun semester.
Hannah Priest headshot

Hannah Priest

September 20, 2019 Campus Life

Vibrant campus life is back at Olivet Nazarene University as faculty and staff welcomed new and returning students for the 2019-2020 academic year. In a short amount of time, the semester has proved to be event-filled and memorable for everyone. Different events and activities, organized by the Office of Student Development have been held around campus to help students be rooted in faith and community before diving into the fall semester.


The goal of Student Development to create a campus community where students feel welcomed and connected. Vice President for Student Development Woody Webb ’86 says, “That happens in small groups within residence halls, but it also occurs at large campus events and in spaces that are designed to bring people together. Spaces like Centennial Chapel, the Perry Center and the recent renovations in Ludwig Center are all designed to create gathering spaces and provide common experiences for our student body.”

Before the school year officially began, Olivet welcomed the Seeking Class of 2023. Freshman and transfer students were able to start their college careers by attending the Jumpstart and FreshStart conferences.


This time offered opportunities to work in groups with their peers and hear from various speakers. The other three classes soon joined the freshman on campus, and the semester began with an exciting first day.

Total undergraduate new student enrollment increased from fall 2018 by 2.3% with an amazing increase of 8.3% for transfer student enrollment. These numbers are excellent for Olivet, considering that according to US News, higher education enrollment has experienced overall decline in the past eight years.

Student Life
University chapel services in the Betty & Kenneth Hawkins Centennial Chapel kicked off the first week of school with blessings and encouragement from University President, Dr. John C. Bowling ’71, and University Chaplain, Rev. Mark Holcomb ’81/D.D. ’18. 

This semester, Chaplain Holcomb scheduled chapel messages to take students, faculty and staff deeper into the continuing theme of Reimagine, urging them to “Consider reimagining a better place where the Kingdom is a reality here and now.” Within the first few weeks, the student body also heard from Skye Jethani, Dr. N.T Wright and fall revival speaker, Dr. Chris Pollock. 


Dr. Wright, a New Testament theologian, was also the keynote speaker at Olivet’s second Theological Leadership Conference. More than 800 theologians from around the world heard from Dr. Wright, as well as a panel of leading professors from sister universities, as they discussed the theme of Presence and Promise: The Challenge of the Temple. 

Dr. Bowling describes the significance of hosting an event like this, “Pastoral leadership at the local church is a unique type of leadership that we believe begins from a theological foundation.” The conference helps to “… explore how our theological convictions inform and shape the way we lead our local churches.”

As the campus community is given a spirit-filled foundation for the semester in chapel, excitement is always stirred up within the student body through class competitions in the annual Ollies Follies events.


The 2019 competition began with exciting athletic games following the first day of classes. The energy carried into wacky games later in the week, when students competed in favorite out-of-the-box relay games. The competition finished a week later with the variety show. Each class put together a show that combined video and live performance elements pertaining to the theme “Follie Through Time.” After an entertaining final night of competition, the senior class was declared the winner. 

The semester still holds several more exciting events for the Olivet community. Director of recreation services, Matt Smith ’00 says, “If the start of the semester is any indication of how the year will go, I think some of our best days are ahead.”

To learn more about life at Olivet, contact the Office of Admissions at admissions@olivet.edu or 800-648-1463.

Published 9/20/19

Hannah Priest headshot

Hannah Priest

Hannah Priest ’21/’22 MBA is passionate about people and sharing their stories. After graduating from Olivet with a degree in Public Relations and Strategic Communications, she has found much joy in serving as the associate director of Alumni and University Relations at Olivet and a freelance writer. In her role, she has the ability to celebrate the accomplishments of those in the Olivet community and share stories of their meaningful experiences from their time at ONU and beyond. Outside of her work at Olivet, she is also a feature editor for SPLENDEUR magazine, an up-and-coming small business aimed at encouraging, equipping and empowering women to find their God-given purpose in whatever season of life they are in.

Student on main campus wearing pink sweater and holding water bottle.

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