The Orientation Action Team focused on assessing and redesigning orientation and first-year experience programming. Recommendations cover orientation activities and strengthening resources for first year students. Additional conversations addressed this critical moment in a student’s life, and following approval from the VP of Campus Life, Fall Orientation will include events that help facilitate important conversations about diversity and inclusion. A cross-cultural team is developing the approach.


Items Advanced by This Team

Recommendation: Creation of Diversity Workshops and Training during First-Year Orientation

In Fall 2015, the Office of the Dean of College and the Division of Campus Life jointly held the first Building Community through Diversity & Inclusion. This interactive orientation session allowed first year students to explore what it means to live in community, engage across difference, and build a more inclusive Wake Forest. Additionally, first year students received information about campus resources to support their identity development as they engage in this work. Currently, The Director of Diversity Education in partnership with the Office of Academic Advising are developing a more sustainable model within new student orientation that will cultivate student cultural competence upon arrival to campus.

Recommendation: Provide Support for Incoming International Students to Help with their Transition

This past July, the Office of Global Program and Studies held the first Arrive@Wake, a three week, credit bearing designed to introduce incoming first year students to campus life at Wake Forest and provide international students with an opportunity to strengthen their writing and speaking skills through small in-class group exercises, writing assignments, and focused feedback from faculty. Additionally, international students are invited to participate in the Intercultural Center mentorship program, which is currently being assessed to ensure it meets the needs of the domestically and internationally diverse community.

Recommendation: Create an Office or Appoint Staff Member to Oversee Orientation and First Year Experience

The Office of the Dean of the College and Division of Campus Life received funding for a new Director of Orientation and First Year Experience. The Director of Orientation and Lower-Division Programming will work closely with the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Advising and the Dean of Students to provide vision and direction for the Lower-Division Experience. This new staff member will help design and facilitate a comprehensive orientation and lower-division experience with the aim of supporting a smooth, integrated transition to life at Wake Forest, in and out of the classroom.

Recommendation: Create a First Year Course to Help Students Understand and Live Effectively in a Diverse Community

In March 2015, the Office of the Dean of the College convened “Campus Climate Change: Faculty Forum on Intercultural Engagement throughout the Curriculum” that was open to all College Faculty. The event resulted in robust conversation around what are the most effective ways to create a diverse learning experience for students. Since then, the Curriculum Committee approved a proposed First Year Experience pilot course that will equip first year students with the conceptual and practical tools to acknowledge and celebrate human difference. Learning outcomes for the course include improved dialogue skills, increased understanding of human motivation, increased understanding of resilience, and increased resilience, increased cultural elasticity, increased self-awareness, increased curiosity, increased mindfulness and knowledge of campus resources. The course will be pass/fail to encourage full participation without the pressure of grades. Through the pilot course, insight will be gained into whether such a course might serve as the first tier of a revised cultural diversity requirement that focuses on development of cultural diversity skills.

For more information, contact:
Dr. Christy Buchanan
Senior Associate Dean for Academic Advising