Officials revamp freshman program

The Board of Regents has approved a budget for a “New Student Orientation” which will revamp student “Transitions,” making four separate programs, some of which would be held overnight.

“It’s being considered as a process, not just a program. It’s part of the entire first year experience of a student … that is critical,” said Dean of Students Kent Kelso.

According to the New Student Orientation proposal released March 15, “No single plan for New Student Orientation will work for all groups of students. Therefore, we must develop a number of different plans … These will include a two-day, overnight session for first time freshmen and their parents, and one-day arrangements for transfers and others.”

The proposal continues, “Each program is designed to best meet the ends of the specific group that it is to accommodate.” The four groups are: Spring (Merit) Scholars, New Student Orientation, Transfer Student Orientation, and Nontraditional Student Orientation.

The new program has a specific mission statement, “to initiate an enduring connection between the students, their families and the NKU community.” Overall the program is designed so that students will be more knowledgeable about NKU and all the “academic programs and comprehensive services offered …”

The idea of New Student Orientation began with Jerry W. Warner, special assistant to the provost, who organized a “Transitions Summit” on Oct. 24, 2003. The summit included vice presidents, deans, associate deans, chairs, as well as personnel from the ARRC, enrollment management and other interested people on campus.

According to the memorandum issued by Warner, they met because “over the years faculty and staff have become more and more displeased with (transitions).”

While at the summit they discussed the event and came to the realization that transitions should be thought of as more of a “process rather than an event.”

Kelso also said that NKU is hiring a new assistant orientation dean, who will report directly to the dean of students by the middle of October. This dean’s job will be to organize the program and make sure it runs smoothly in its first year in existence.

Three committees will help the new assistant dean with the new program: the Orientation Steering Committee, the Orientation Program Committee and the Orientation Operations Committee.

Besides the new assistant dean, the program will also create as many as 20 student jobs as orientation leaders during the summer. “(T)he jobs will come with a significant stipend and free housing,” said Kelso. “Their responsibility will primarily be during the summer, especially with those overnight programs, being paid what we consider to be a significant student wage, as well being provided with free housing.”

The new program will be a mandatory event and will be similar to programs already at Lamar University and Southern Indiana University.

Kelso said the reason for the new program was to help with better retention of incoming students. “I believe strongly that a quality, comprehensive orientation program is a significant retention factor for students and their success,” he said. “It is a critical factor in achieving that first step to retaining students over time.”