Power of Maroon: Leadership Spotlight
Lori Beth Miller, Associate Dean of Students and Director of First-Year Programs (Public Relations/Terrence Humphrey)
Lori Beth Miller, associate dean of students and director of First-Year Programs, is featured in this ongoing series designed to allow EKU leaders and others in prominent positions to discuss their roles as well as campus issues. Miller, who has been in her current role since July 2009, holds a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown College, a master’s degree from the University of Kentucky and a doctoral degree from the University of Phoenix.
For what is the Office of First-Year Programs responsible?
Our goal as the First-Year Programs Office is to empower first-year students to persist to graduation. To achieve this, we coordinate several programs including New Student and Transfer Orientations, Colonel Camps, and New Student Days. We also organize the Eastern Family Network, for parents and family members of current EKU students. In addition, we collaborate with partners across campus to host the EKU Reads Program for the first-year students.
What is Colonel Camp?
Colonel Camp is a four-day, three-night program for first-year students during August. For the third year, there will be two Colonel Camp sessions. At Colonel Camp, first-year students participate in a variety of leadership development and growth opportunities. Colonel Campers learn about successfully transitioning to EKU, about the many extracurricular activities on campus, and about their first-year class. Additionally Colonel Campers have the opportunity to move into their residence hall prior to other new students and they assist their fellow students during Move-in Day. For the first time this year, Colonel Campers will also have the option to participate in an outdoor adventure trip after Colonel Camp.
How do you view FYP office’s role in improving retention rates?
Each of our FYP programs is designed to facilitate the seamless transition from high school to EKU for the first-year students. In facilitating a smooth transition to the university community, the FYP operations are key to first-year student success, and thus, student retention. Since FYP focuses exclusively on the first-year population, it is our intention to influence the retention rates of first-year students as a direct or indirect result of our endeavors.
What is your office doing differently this year in order to have a more meaningful impact on students?
Specifically for orientation this year, we are hosting an Orientation in April for High Achiever students. Typically this population of first-year students is invited to attend our first sessions within the regular orientation season but this year we selected an earlier date in April to host them and engage them on campus. One addition to the Colonel Camp program this year is the opportunity for Colonel Campers to participate in an outdoor adventure trip after Colonel Camp. For New Student Days, detailed efforts are underway to strengthen and heighten the value of the "firs- year student traditions" definitive of this programming model.
How will this year’s New Student Days engage students and help them get acclimated to campus life?
New Student Days 2012 will feature a compliment of traditional and new programs. These programs, which launch on August 19, the Sunday before the fall term begins, provide clear transition programming from the summer of a high school student to the fall of a college first-year student. From the revamped New Student Convocation and Picnic at the President’s Home to the Student Involvement Fair at City Fest, to the Keynote Address by the author of the EKU Reads text, these traditional programs seek to engage the student in the EKU community. Again this year, after the shining success last year, the first home football game will be incorporated within the New Student Days programming, where first-year students will receive t-shirts, free concessions and seating in a cheer block. Through these programs and more, New Students Days programming seeks to provide a strong foundation for first-year students both to engage them in the campus community as well as facilitate the transition to university life.
What is being done to engage students’ families, and why is that critical?
Membership in the Eastern Family Network for parents and family members of current first-year students is available at no charge. Members of this Network receive monthly newsletters, which highlight current happenings on campus, campus deadlines, and trends in the university community. Each fall semester family members of current students are invited to campus for Family Weekend, a weekend of activities hosted in collaboration by divisions and units across campus. Furthermore, in the spring, the Eastern Family Network members are invited to an ‘EKU Day at the Races’ at Keeneland. These programs seek to keep family members well informed and to ease the transition from high school to college life for all members of the family unit, which is essential.
What book has been chosen for EKU Reads this year, and why was it selected? Why have a common reading assignment?
The 2012 EKU Reads selection is “Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat” by Hal Herzog. This selection, completed by the faculty and staff EKU Reads committee, was based on the broad appeal to a variety of readers, readability, potential for strong programming opportunities across campus and for the rich content applicable in several areas of the curriculum for diverse course integration. The common reading assignment provides first-year students with a shared introduction to academic life, which challenges students to think critically and introduces the students to new ideas and concepts.