UNO Administrators Present Student Involvement and Orientation Programs at National Conference
University of New Orleans student involvement and orientation programs are top-notch – and this fall administrators present their experiences and lessons at a national conference.
Associate Director of Orientation and First Year Experience Christy Heaton, Interim Director of Student Involvement and Leadership Dale O'Neill and First Year Academic Adviser Caleigh Keith will present at a national conference hosted by the National Orientation Directors' Association, known as NODA. The annual conference takes place in early November in San Antonio, Texas. The three women will represent the University as well as NODA's Region XI, which comprises nine states, including Louisiana.
Together, the three women will present highlights and lessons gleaned from the University's Transfer Retreat for Leadership, Transfer Mentor Program and Privateer Plunge.
"It's cool because we have a high percentage of transfer students on our campus," said Heaton. "In the past couple of years, we have really pumped up our programs for transfer students."
Forty-three percent of the undergraduate students at UNO during the 2012-2013 academic year were transfer students, said Heaton. If their needs are not met, transfer students can always transfer universities again. The goal at UNO is to ensure that the new students get plugged into University life and feel at home in their academic programs as soon as possible, Heaton said.
Heaton and O'Neill created the University's Transfer Retreat for Leadership program to help ease their transition to the University, provide unique opportunities for forming new friendships and introduce the new students to University resources.
Heaton subsequently created the University's Transfer Mentor program, which runs throughout the semester and pairs the incoming transfers with current students who transferred themselves in previous years.
The Transfer Retreat for Leadership is a two-day one-night program that takes place at a retreat center on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. Transfer student leaders serve as mentors for the new students, lead education sessions and workshops – and share some of their own experiences of transferring to the University. Incoming transfer students learn to balance academics and wellness and are introduced to basic resources.
"When they come to campus, they have resources and friends," said Heaton.
The Privateer Plunge, developed by Heaton and O'Neill, is six weeks of welcome programming designed to introduce new students to all the resources UNO has to offer.
Privateer Plunge provides new students a variety of opportunities, events and workshops to understand available resources and to meet UNO students, faculty and administrators.
This summer, the University rolled out a Privateer Plunge Guidebook web application that new students may access via their Smartphones, iPads or other devices. This year's Privateer Plunge, which starts on Freshman Move-In Day on Thursday, Aug. 22, has expanded from four to six "tracks," including special tracks for transfer students and UNIV classes, and includes more than 150 events.
Tau Sigma is a new honor society for transfer students on campus. Caleigh Keith, who served last year as a New Student Orientation graduate student and is now a First Year Academic Adviser in the Privateer Enrollment Center, brought the honor society to UNO and is now expanding membership. A large induction class is expected in the fall.
"I had mentors. I had people who helped me," said Heaton, who found her calling for higher education while enjoying leadership programs in college. "I think it's important that everyone realize that we are all connected."