Kathleen Sullivan, For The Miami Student

Elizabeth Stoll, director of new student programs at Miami University, was recently honored for her contributions to new student programming.

Stoll received the 2010 National Orientation Directors Association (NODA) Outstanding Professional award.

“It’s a really great acknowledgement of the work and changes we’ve made to orientation over the past couple of years,” Stoll said.

The mission of NODA is to provide education, leadership and professional development in the field of college student orientation, transition and retention, according to the organization’s website.

“I feel I’m making a difference in the growth and development of students,” Stoll said.

Stoll came to Miami in 2008 and took an in-depth look at first-year programs and their outcomes.

“We focus less on memorizing stuff and talking at (students) and more on engaging students in conversation,” she said.

According to Stoll, the program adjusted many aspects of orientation including small groups, revised training of Summer Orientation Undergraduate Leaders (SOULs), engaging in reflection questions, goal setting and individual advising.

The summer orientation program helps new students understand the importance of setting goals and assuming ownership when transitioning to college.

“I think it’s pretty cool each student is arranged to meet one-on-one with a faculty adviser,” Stoll said.

According to Stoll, there is a difference in Miami’s programming compared to other universities. When visiting universities like Bowling Green State University or Indiana University, Stoll said she didn’t see reflection questions or goal setting in their orientations, and thought the programs seemed segmented.

“It’s a challenge for a school our size,” she said. “Our orientation seems pretty seamless with a more common goal.”

To make orientation a more “seamless” process, Miami has a 4C’s framework: confident, comfortable, connected and curious.

During orientation, first-years explore and analyze the 4C’s, which creates a structure for students to understand the purpose of the program, Stoll said.

It seems to be working. According to the 2010 survey by the Office of New Student Programs, 98 percent of students said orientation made them more confident in their decision to attend Miami and 97 percent said they felt more prepared for their first year.

First-year Emily Lundquist said orientation was fun and engaging.

“I felt really welcomed,” Lundquist said. “The SOULs were really informative and mine was pretty funny.”

First-year Megan Thobe said orientation gave her the opportunity to meet unique people.

“I met some people at orientation I wouldn’t have met other places,” she said. “I really liked my adviser. I hope he becomes my teacher.”

The Office of New Student Programs has plenty of feedback, with a total of 2,347 students and family members who responded to the orientation survey, as well as help from more than 40 different offices, according to Stoll.

“The surveys say students are learning Miami is invested in their success,” Stoll said.

Besides orientation, Stoll is involved in the First-Year Institute and other new student programs on campus.

She was recognized for her accomplishments Nov. 6 during the opening banquet at the 2010 NODA Conference.