New office launched to support incoming Huskies

Two university offices are merging in order to better serve incoming students.

The Office of Orientation and Family Connections is merging with the Office of First and Second Year Experience and will now be known as the Office of Orientation and First Year Programs.

“Part of the goal in bringing these two offices together is to ensure that we have alignment from the point at which a student goes through orientation through the end of their first year,” said Renique Kersh, associate vice provost for Student Engagement and Success. “This change will allow us to make sure that we are providing intentional support for our students and setting them up to succeed.”

The first year of college is an important one, and a key time for students to get acclimated with the university and its resources. The Office of Orientation and First Year Programs is designed to help Huskies make connections, get comfortable on campus and start to think of NIU as home.

“What we know is that a lot of universities find great success when their students transition well,” Kersh said. “This is a great opportunity for us to front-load support for students and make sure that they are connected to peers and staff and faculty who really care about them and can be a resource for them.”

The new office is a direct result of the university’s Strategic Enrollment Plan and the mission to focus on key priorities for students during their first year.

Jenna Pracht, acting director of the Office of Orientation and First Year Programs

“The merge of these two departments provides an opportunity to create more consistency and flow in our messaging and expectations for new students at NIU, beginning at the point of admission, through orientation and into the first year,” said Jenna Pracht, acting director, Office of Orientation and First Year Programs.

A student’s first NIU experience begins with orientation and continues with programs designed specifically for incoming students. From Welcome Days to courses like UNIV 101, there are many resources available to help new students as they transition to life at NIU.

“This is all part of our reimagining the first year experience to better match the priorities that we have identified,” Kersh said. “We are being thoughtful in how we introduce and transition students to the university we are setting them up for success.”

Pracht said the Office of Orientation and First Year Programs will spearhead campus-wide efforts to engage first year students and provide a clear pathway for students to follow during their time at NIU.

“By aligning services for our first year students we hope to reduce redundancies and create stronger connections between units across campus,” Pracht said. “This change will lead to a more coordinated approach in supporting first year students.”

Go to Office of Orientation and First Year Programs to learn more.

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