Welcome to the new academic year. I hope everyone had a fantastic summer, got a little bit of time to rest and recharge, and is raring to go for the new year. Around here, there was a lot going on in the summer. Not only did we have our usual couple of thousand K¬-12 kids participating in our wonderful summer programs, and almost 10,000 people attended TouchTomorrow, but the campus itself underwent about 40 different projects to help upgrade our physical facilities—some of which you can see and some of which you can't—from a new waterline that runs up underneath the fountain, to building the mail room of the future, which you can see in the lower level of the Rubin Campus Center. That resulted in our getting a hundred extra seats down there too, so go check it out. It's fantastic.
And across our academic buildings, lots of work as well, whether that was in Kaven, or down in Gateway Park, working on PracticePoint and LEAP, or the new building at Sagamore Road we've acquired that's turning into our manufacturing hub—so, tons of projects across the campus, and progress on them all.
As we head into the coming year, we always start with the arrival of our fabulous new students, 1200 members of the Class of 2023. They are, of course, the best class ever. They just got here on Sunday, and we welcomed them with our usual enthusiasm and they are settling in. We also have about 800 new graduate students joining us this fall, including a record number of PhD students—over 100—so we're very excited to welcome all of these new members of the WPI community.
In terms of things happening this year, it's going to be an exciting one. We'll be celebrating the successes that we've had with our last strategic plan, Elevate Impact. We'll be learning from that, and pivoting and working on creating a new plan together. On October 4th, we'll be breaking ground on WPI's next academic building. It'll be the largest building here on the hill, and we're very excited about that one.
We're advancing our work on effective collaboration and shared governance with the launch of the joint coordinating council, which was a recommendation that came out of our work around governance last year through the BGWG (Bylaws & Governance Working Group). We got ourselves organized over the summer, and we'll be meeting throughout the academic year. And this'll be the year we launch the new global school. We will be searching for a dean and filling that role, but we've already got groups—planning groups—organized to get the new school launched and implemented.
Actually, we'll do that with a special event in the spring, celebrating the launch of the global school, but we'll also be celebrating another great milestone at WPI—50 years of the WPI Plan. May 2020 marks that 50th anniversary. Stay tuned—you'll be hearing more about how we'll be celebrating WPI's unique project-based curriculum, and the lives it has impacted—among our students and faculty, and also in communities all over the world. We're excited about that!
You can hear more about all of this and lots of other things that are going on around here at our annual fall town hall meeting, which is Thursday, September 12, at 10:30 a.m. in the Odeum. We hope to see you there and at the barbecue afterwards, where we'll be talking about lots of things and welcoming new members of our community. I am starting my sixth year at WPI, and I'm grateful every single day for this wonderful, supportive community. Happy new year, everyone … have a great A-Term!