New committee created for orientation following departure of associate dean for orientation

Director of Campus Life Joe Golia is part of the committee that will manage the orientation process for new students, taking on the role previously held by Laura Doane, Associate Dean for Orientation and Student Transition. Alex Knapp / The Tufts Daily

As the admissions process for the Class of 2020 continues, the Office of Undergraduate Education is gearing up for the next group of Jumbos with the creation of a new committee this spring tasked with handling the management of the Undergraduate Orientation program.

The committee first met to discuss orientation programming in January, and will continue to meet every other week throughout the coming months, according to committee member and Director of Campus Life Joe Golia. Committee members, who include Associate Dean Robert Mack and Associate Dean Christopher Rossi, are taking on the role previously held by Laura Doane, associate dean for Orientation and Student Transition. Doane, who had been responsible for the management of new student orientation, left the position in October 2015 to work for Cape Cod Community College, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Golia, who serves as the main contact between the rest of the university and the committee, said that he currently works to coordinate logistics, basic planning and social events. Meanwhile, Mack works as the committee’s academic contact, connecting with advising and academic programming. Rossi, who works as a primary contact for first-years, helps connect with the new students even before they arrive on campus for orientation, Golia said.

“There’s a time when Admissions turns everything over to us,” he said. “They kind of own the class now, then it gets passed over in May. [Rossi] is coordinating all of that.”

Other members of the team include Christa Ricker, assistant director of Campus Life, Outdoor Education and Pre-Orientation Programs, who serves as the contact for all Pre-Orientation programming, and Laura DaRos, associate director of Campus Life and Operations, who focuses on training and leadership. Golia said that there will also be a graduate student Program Coordinator over the summer, but this role has not yet been filled.

However, Golia said there is uncertainty as to whether or not the university will hire a new orientation director specifically tasked with directing and organizing orientation programming for incoming students.

“I don’t know if there will be an orientation director [for] some years,” he said. “I don’t know what the plan is, but I think there’s a lot of conversation about possible changes that could happen with orientation. This is how we’re doing it this year, moving forward.”

Golia said that a new orientation director would be useful at some point in the future to ensure consistency in and commitment to the orientation program.

“I do think a Director of Orientation at Tufts would be an end that would be great someday,” Golia said. “[The director] would report to Mary Pat [McMahon, Dean of Student Affairs] and work on orientation and all kinds of first-year programs.”

He explained that despite Doane’s departure, he still has confidence in the success of orientation programming.

“[Committee members have] been heavily involved, and we will still have our three student coordinators,” Golia said. “I’m very confident that it will be a successful orientation program.”

In addition to the three student orientation coordinators, Undergraduate Orientation will also still have 150 student orientation leaders to help with creating programming and with the first week of transition, according to the Undergraduate Orientation websiteGolia explained that the committee is in the process of hiring the new student coordinators, noting that the position is a full-time, intensive job.

“That’s a full-time job starting June 1 and going through orientation,” Golia said. “They really plan all of orientation. They report back up to us and they each have a separate role, but really it’s the three of them that spend all summer putting the whole program together.”

Grace Buchloh (LA ’15), who served as one of the three coordinators last year, said she hopes that the program will retain its integrity despite the lack of an administrative manager for orientation.

“My time as the Orientation Coordinator last summer certainly showed me that Tufts takes new student orientation very seriously,” she said. “I hope that the time, energy and enthusiasm that Laura Doane put into orientation is not lost with the administrative changes.”

Looking forward, Golia said it is important to have an administrative focus on making the most out of orientation.

“We can’t look at orientation as a 5-day, ‘you do it, it’s over’ [process],” he said. “Orientation should be seen as a five-year process. Really having someone concentrating on these things will be great.”