Thousands of students streamed onto the University of Kentucky campus Friday, as UK kicked off "Move-In" day before the start of the 2010 fall semester.
President Lee T. Todd Jr. and his wife, Patsy, greeted parents and first-year students, who arrived by car to move into rooms at the Blanding and Kirwan towers dormitories on UK's south campus.
UK football coach Joker Phillips and members of the football team turned out to help with heavy lifting as students hauled mountains of luggage and supplies into their rooms. Members of UK's marching band provided plenty of loud music and enthusiasm, and about 1,000 volunteers pitched in to direct traffic, answer questions and move furnishings.
About 3,500 freshmen moved into dormitories Friday, to be followed by about 500 more on Saturday.
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Todd said that the freshman class is being held to about 4,000 this year, in part because of tight finances that limited the hiring of instructors. On the other hand, he said, that has allowed UK to be more discriminating in accepting new students, so the academic quality of this year's freshman group promises to be high.
Returning students will start arriving on campus Sunday. Altogether, about 5,100 students will be living on campus this fall. Total enrollment at UK will be about 28,000, with about 75 percent of them living off campus.
Classes at UK start Wednesday.
A few cars, vans and pickups began arriving at Blanding-Kirwan before 8 a.m., disgorging amounts of cargo that would have strained a good-size cruise ship. Some vehicles even pulled trailers for extra carrying capacity to hold heaping boxes of clothing, small refrigerators, cases of bottled water, televisions, electric sweepers, computers and the numerous other items that today's students need to sustain themselves at college.
Nevertheless, the unloading went smoothly and seemed to be well organized, said Betty Bridgers of Jonesboro, Ga.
Bridgers said she drove up from Georgia to help her son, D.J., bring her granddaughter, Tyra Bridgers, to start her first semester at UK. Betty Bridgers said she was standing in for Tyra's mom, Tonia Bridgers, who is serving in Afghanistan with the Army.
Betty Bridgers said her granddaughter was "very excited" about being in college and on her own for the first time.
"She can't wait to get started," Betty Bridgers said.
For some, bidding their youngsters goodbye was a bittersweet moment.
Sarah Auvenshine of Paris helped her son, Christopher, unload items for his room at Kirwan and get ready for his first semester. Her daughter, Katelyn Cooper, is a UK graduate.
"It's a big day, a huge day," Auvenshine said. "After all, we'll be going home to an empty nest. It's going be different and a big adjustment. Of course, I'm looking forward to my son's success at UK, but I am going to miss him."
Sherri Bird of Somerset insisted that she was more excited than sad as she watched her son Eric unload his stuff.
"He's 18, and it's time," she said. "He needs to be away from mama."
She added, however, that "there may be a little emotion when I get back home tonight."
Meanwhile, other colleges and universities around the area also are gearing up for the fall semester.
Eastern Kentucky University and Morehead State University welcomed incoming freshmen Friday, and both schools will start classes Monday. Freshmen arrived at Asbury University on Thursday and Friday, and classes at the school will begin Monday. Georgetown College and Kentucky State University also start classes Monday. Classes at Berea College will open Thursday, while Centre College will kick off the fall semester on Aug. 30. Transylvania University will open on Sept. 7.