Batavia, New York —An expanded student orientation program helped make the opening of Genesee Community College’s Fall 2013 semester one of the smoothest ever, Vice President for Student and Enrollment Services Virginia M. Taylor reported to the Board of Trustees Monday evening.
More than three in four new students participated in the orientation programs, which included sessions on college services, classroom and study tips and opportunities for new students to meet and greet each other. Dr. Taylor said that orientation efforts continued this week with Genesee’s “Week of Welcome,” September 9 – 15. During Week of Welcome (or “WOW Week,” as many students refer to this period), the College hosts informational fairs, movies, student club recruitment initiatives and social events for the student body.
While activities such as orientation and Week of Welcome provide important information and guidance to students, they also promote student engagement, which in turn leads to academic success, Dr. Taylor said. “We know that a top-notch academic experience is critical to student success, and our faculty offers that,” Dr. Taylor said. “But study after study in higher education concludes that when students become engaged with each other, they become more committed to the educational process in general. This engagement can mean getting to know their professors better, making new friends within the student body or participating in student clubs. There’s a direct link between engagement and student success, so we do all we can to foster engagement and involvement early in the semester.”
Dr. Taylor also noted the absence of lines at college offices. “We saw very little in the way of lines at the Registrar’s Office, Business Office, Admissions Office and Financial Aid Office,” she said. “We worked very hard last spring and over the summer to contact students and help them make all their college preparations prior to arrival. It looks like our efforts succeeded.”
The College’s emphasis on student engagement will continue beyond Week of Welcome, Dr. Taylor added. During the coming semester, the College plans to begin a Financial Aid Awareness campaign and offer expanded career planning services to students. The Financial Aid Awareness campaign will help students learn to plan their college-related expenditures, obtain financial aid and scholarships and minimize college-related loans. New career services will include online mentoring through LinkedIn (a social and professional networking site) and more career-oriented workshops.
“This has been a great startup,” Dr. Taylor said. “We see a lot of excitement on the part of our students, and we’re looking forward to a great year.”
In other business Monday, the Board of Trustees:
•Heard Provost Kathleen M. Schiefen introduce Craig R. Lamb, the College’s new Dean of Distributed Learning. In his role, Mr. Lamb will work to expand educational opportunities for area residents through the College’s campus centers and through online courses. Mr. Lamb comes to Genesee from Empire State College, where he oversaw distance education initiatives.
•Approved a three-year renewal of the contract between the College and the Genesee Educational Support Personnel Association, which represents many college staff members. Base wages increase by 2.75% during the first year of the renewed contract, and 1.5% during the second and third years.
•Approved a resolution of appreciation to outgoing Trustee Glenn R. Morton, recognizing his contributions to the College during his 16 years of service on the Board of Trustees.
•Heard Director of Development and External Affairs Richard Ensman report that 386 students are living at College Village, the College’s student residential community. Staff members throughout the College worked with incoming College Village residents over the spring and summer to ensure that they were ready to begin classes, Ensman said. College Village residents participated in an intensive orientation program when they moved in, as well as a variety of social and safety programs.
•Heard Executive Vice President for Planning and Institutional Effectiveness William T. Emm report that the College has submitted a $193,000 “Pathways to Employment” grant proposal through the Finger Lakes Economic Development Council in support of the local food processing industry. If funded, the proposal will help support faculty, equipment purchases and lab upgrades for the College’s new food processing technology program. The Finger Lakes Council is one of ten such councils created across the state by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to promote economic development through public-private partnerships. The councils recommend state-funded grants to regional organizations that foster business growth and job creation. Mr. Emm and President James M. Sunser are actively involved in council activities.
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