OCU’s Petree College of Arts and Sciences has begun to form informational assemblies for current freshmen and new transfer students. The assemblies are the first Tuesday of every month, starting at 1 p.m. and ending at 2:15 p.m.
Every meeting focuses on educating freshmen and new transfers on information that they would normally have to figure out by themselves. The next assembly will provide details on how to manage spring enrollment.
At the first assembly on September 5, attendees were divided into groups, each group consisting of 10 students and one member of the faculty or staff. During the year, the faculty or staff member will act as a mentor to the students in the group.
According to Dr. Robert Spinks, director of OCU’s program in non-profit leadership, this bonding technique should serve to “cross the boundaries in between majors.” Spinks hopes these new assemblies will help the current students “feel welcomed in Petree.”
“It’s an outgrowth of the university’s total desire to have retention of students, and one way to do that is to make sure their first year experience is of high quality,” Spinks said.
Wendy Brunner, associate professor of mass communications, said the mentors are eager to provide new students with a sense of family.
“It’s about keeping freshman here,” Brunner said. “What we want to do is make sure that the freshmen know that no matter their major within Petree, they have a family here. They have a support system whether they’re education or biology or mass communications. It’s our way of showing that we’re a community.”
Spinks agrees that Petree’s new assemblies simultaneously dedicating more time to helping first year students while also giving the faculty and staff an opportunity to get to know students on a more personal level.
“We have a number of different disciplines and majors in Petree,” Spinks said. “We’re not bound together by a single academic thread like the other schools. We’re trying to find a way to highlight and capitalize off of what we do have in common, which is our liberal arts thread.”
The general consensus within Petree is that these new assemblies will help bring a sense of community to their college. Dr. Mark Davies, professor of social and ecological ethics, believes that this method will help the incoming freshman feel more at home.
“This gives the whole college an opportunity to get together as a whole,” Davies said.
Petree’s assemblies are only available to current freshmen and transfer students, but Davies is interested in the idea of allowing all classes to attend.
“I’d think it would be great to get everybody involved,” Davies said. “We’re not as large of a college as we used to be, so it wouldn’t be as difficult to bring the entire college together for events like this.”
Spinks also expressed an interest in expanding the project.
“Whether this will expand through the years hasn’t been discussed yet,” Spinks said. “I could see us keeping connections past year one. I’d certainly like to do that.”