Approximately 350 First-Year students became Washington & Jefferson College Presidents during the College’s Matriculation Ceremony on Aug. 24.

The annual ceremony introduces the campus community to the incoming class and shares College traditions and insights with new students. In his address to the class, W&J President Dr. John C. Knapp noted that the Class of 2025 includes students from 24 states and five countries, who have already attained leadership positions in their high schools and volunteer organizations, and who bring to the College their passions for music, science, entrepreneurship, and a wide variety of other interests.

“This is one of the most significant events on our campus,” said Dr. Knapp. “The other is Commencement. Both are about new beginnings and limitless opportunities.”

Dr. Michael Lewis, associate professor of English, also welcomed the new class by affirming that after the unprecedented nature of the previous two academic years, he – like the new class – looks forward to this year with excitement. Lewis was named Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year by the most recent graduating class.

“We live in a moment where community seems impossible. We don’t seem to agree on anything. I hope that we can undertake the vital, daily work of forging a community where everyone feels challenged academically and athletically; and where everyone feels safe, supported, and comfortable in rising to those challenges,” Dr. Lewis said.

Student Government Association President Cole Leathers ’22 also welcomed the class, sharing insights and wisdom for the new Presidents based on his own experiences.

“What you’re about to do is not easy but you have a community behind you to make sure that you can. Utilize every aspect of this campus that you find beneficial to you…Remember that this is a community and I wish you luck on finding out how you fit into it,” Cole said.

The ceremony concludes with two traditions at Old Main: the ringing of Old Main’s bells honoring W&J’s founders and the Crossing of the Seal, signifying the students’ induction into the W&J community. The students will cross the seal again as seniors during their Commencement ceremony.

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, proudly located in Washington, Pa., is a historic liberal arts college founded in 1781 that values ethical leadership, professional readiness, and inclusive communities. Our highly customized and intellectually engaging student experience develops professionals of uncommon integrity to lead in an ever-changing world. For more information about W&J, visit or call 888-W-AND-J.