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Orientation Professionals Institute
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NODA's Orientation Professionals Institute (OPI) is an educational program designed to serve new full-time professionals (with less than 4 years of total professional experience) who are responsible for orientation programming.


2018 Orientation Professionals Institute

The 2018 Orientation Professionals Institute (OPI) will take place October 19 - 21 during the 2018 NODA Annual Conference in San Diego, California.


Who We Serve
The Institute is designed to serve new full-time professional staff who are responsible for orientation programming and possess less than 4 years of total professional experience. The Institute is not open to graduate or undergraduate students. We recognize that many professionals have significant professional experience in higher education and may have recently become responsible for orientation programs on their campus, but our primary goal is to serve emerging professionals in the field. 

Learning Outcomes and Curriculum 

The curriculum for OPI was developed and is currently guided by the standards set forth by the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS). The curriculum serves as a roadmap for professionals new to the field of orientation, transition, and retention over a two and a half day institute. 
There are six steps that guide the curriculum of Orientation Professionals Institute. Each step contributes to the foundation for developing, implementing and assessing orientation programs. The six steps addressed are:

1. Development of Mission and Goals

2. Assessing Campus Realities and Politics and Leading Change 

3. Planning and Programming 

4. Organization of Staffing, Training and Supervision

5: Identify Resources

6: Evaluation, Assessment and Closing

Additionally, the role of orientation and its history in higher education and an introduction to professional development opportunities within NODA are introduced.

Click here for a more detailed outline of OPI's curriculum. 

What People Are Saying About OPI 

"This institute gave me the tools and confidence I needed to be able to break down the barriers of being a new professional and start owning and taking responsibility for my program. Thanks so much!!!"

"I loved OPI! I will definitely recommend OPI to new professionals in the field. I really enjoyed networking, learning, and having the opportunity to share. I wish I could come every year!"

"OPI far exceeded my expectations! As a new professional in the field of orientation, I now feel like I have more confidence in my abilities. The amount of new ideas I will take back to my institution are amazing! Thank you!!"

"This was great for me as a new professional and allowed me to really think about the foundational pieces of orientation."

"OPI was a truly great experience to kick off my professional career within the NODA world." 

Institute Faculty 

OPI is staffed by outstanding faculty with extensive student affairs experience including a wide variety of orientation and other administrative experiences. Faculty members have served in roles at diverse types of institutions including all sizes, public, private, community colleges, and special interest institutions. Additionally, each faculty member has held leadership positions within NODA. Regardless of the type of institution you represent, you will have ample opportunity to interact with faculty, other NODA leadership, and participants who share common professional interests and challenges.


Jeff Brown

Associate Dean of Students and Director of New Student and Family Programs, Clemson University

Jeff is the Associate Dean of Students and the Director of New Student and Family Programs at Clemson University in South Carolina. In this role he is responsible for numerous programs serving undergraduate and graduate students. These programs include undergraduate orientation, graduate student orientation, extended orientation/welcome week programs, parent/family programs, veteran services, and underrepresented student retention programs. Prior to his work in OTR, Jeff worked in housing, residence life, and fraternity/sorority life. Jeff also serves the Division of Student Affairs as the coordinator for Graduate Assistant recruitment, selection and orientation. Originally from the Chicago area, Jeff attended Bradley University where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Communications. He also earned his Master of Education from Clemson University in Counselor Education/Student Affairs. Jeff has been involved with NODA for many years serving on the 2012 Conference Committee as the Educational Programs Co-Chair and as a member of the NODA Board of Directors for three years.

Gwen Fears, Ed.D.

Associate Dean of Students, Miami University

Gwen is the Associate Dean of Students at Miami University with responsibility for Transition and Assessment including Orientation and Transition Programs, Parent and Family Programs, and the Office of Residence Life. She serves the division of student affairs as the central assessment professional and provides leadership for the division on multiple institutional committees focused on retention, assessment, and student success. Additionally, she partners with the Provost’s Office in the administration of the campus-wide first year transition course. Gwen started at Miami in August of 2011 and prior to that, she worked at the University of Utah as the Director of Orientation and Leadership Development for 10 years. Gwen has worked at state institutions ranging in size from 2,100 to 33,000+ students. She earned her bachelor's degree in Technical Journalism and a master’s degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education from Colorado State University. She completed her doctoral work at the University of Utah in Educational Leadership and Policy. Gwen has been involved in NODA since 1995 and has served on the Board of Directors twice, served as a co-host of the 2006 annual conference in Salt Lake City, and has written a chapter in the Orientation Planning Manual. She received the Outstanding Orientation Professional Award from NODA in 2011. Most important to Gwen are her husband and two children. She enjoys reading, coaching, being outside, and working in her garden.


Shea Kidd Houze, Ph.D.

Director of New Student and Retention Programs
University of Southern Mississippi

Originally from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Shea Kidd Houze received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech Communication from the University of Southern Mississippi, Master of Education in College Student Affairs Administration from the University of Georgia and Ph.D. in Educational Research from the University of Memphis. 

 Over the past 10 years, Dr. Houze has enjoyed a career in college administration at a number of institutions of higher education in Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, and Mississippi.  During this time, she has gained experience in the areas of new student orientation, multicultural affairs, career development, leadership, student activities, retention programs, and alumni affairs. Dr. Houze currently serves as Director of New Student and Retention Programs at the University of Southern Mississippi where her primary responsibilities include developing strategic initiatives to impact retention and graduation rates at the university.  Programs within her department include New Student Orientation, Golden Eagle Welcome Week, Parent and Family Programs, the Jump Scholars Program, PASS Scholars Program, Academic Coaching, and the TRIO/Student Support Services Program.

 In addition to managing New Student and Retention Programs, Dr. Houze serves as the Mississippi state co-coordinator for the National Orientation Directors Association, serves as a faculty member at Southern Miss, and is a co-lead facilitator for The LeaderShape Institute.

Jamie Mantooth, Ph.D.

Executive Director of Enrollment Services and Student Engagement

University of Tennessee at Martin

Jamie serves the University of Tennessee at Martin as the Executive Director of Enrollment Services & Student Engagement. In this role, he oversees Admissions, Financial Aid & Scholarships, Records Office, and the Student Success Center. He has served in this role since October 1, 2015.

He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Tennessee at Martin, a Master of Education in Higher Education Administration from the University of South Carolina, and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Auburn University.

He and his wife, Katie have two daughters, Porter (we share the same birthday) and Betsy, and one son, Jack.

Tom Menchhofer

Director of New Student and Family Engagement, DePaul University

Tom is the Director of New Student and Family Engagement at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. He has held this role for the past 7 years and oversees new student orientation, welcome week programs, parent and family programs, and co-manages the first year program at DePaul. Tom has spent his career working with students in transition, both through admissions and orientation/first year programs offices. He has served a variety of institution types ranging from large, state institutions to small, liberal arts colleges; from a highly selective institution to an arts and media college; and currently works at the largest Catholic university in the country. He spent 3 years on the NODA Board of Directors, has assisted on a regional conference planning committee, and given numerous presentations. In his spare time, Tom is an avid runner on the lakefront in Chicago.

Tom holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Bowling Green State University, a Master of Education in Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration from the University of Vermont, and has recently started a Ph.D. program in Higher Education Administration at Illinois State University.


Michelle Nightingale

Director of Student Success Services, Tompkins Cortland Community College

Michelle is the Director of Student Success Services at Tompkins Cortland Community College, where she is responsible for the oversight of all new student orientation and transition programming, student success and retention initiatives, academic advisement, and academic intervention initiatives. In this role, she chairs the college-wide First-Year Experience Council and serves as a liaison to the Student Life Group. Michelle has been a member of NODA since 2003 and has served in various leadership roles within the association including Regional Representative to the Board of Directors, Co-Chair of the Two-Year College Network, Regional Conference Co-Host, several Regional Conference Planning Committees, and as a member of several association committees. Prior to starting at Tompkins Cortland Community College in 2010, Michelle worked in orientation, the first-year experience, parent and family programs, and residence life at public and private four-year institutions ranging in size from 4,000 to over 28,000 students including Michigan Technological University, Ithaca College, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University at Buffalo, and SUNY Geneseo. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the State University of New York College at Geneseo and a Master of Education in Student Affairs and Higher Education Administration from the University at Buffalo. Michelle enjoys spending time with her husband Chris, daughter Madelyn, and black lab Aggy.

Jeanine Ward-Roof, Ph.D.

Vice President for Student Affairs, Ferris State University

Jeanine is the Vice President for Student Affairs at Ferris State University working with the following functional areas: admissions, career services, commencement, dean of student life, enrollment services, financial aid, health center, institutional research and testing, multicultural student services, orientation, personal counseling center, records office/registrar, student center, student conduct, student leadership and activities, student employment and university recreation. Jeanine has worked at state and private institutions ranging in student enrollment size from 1,200 to 40,000+ students.  Prior to her current role, she served as Dean of Students at Florida State University and in a variety of roles including Director of Student Development Services at Clemson University.  She received her Bachelor's degree in Communication from Ohio University, her Master's degree in College Student Personnel from Bowling Green State University and her Ph.D. from Clemson University in Educational Leadership. She has been involved in NODA since 1987 and has served as President, Director of Regions, member of the Board of Directors, editor of the Orientation Review, co-editor and chapter author for the 2003 Designing Successful Transitions: A Guide to Orientating Students to College and editor of the 2010 edition of the same publication, faculty member OPI and Interassociation Liaison. She has received several awards including the Service Award from South Carolina College Personnel Association, the John Award for Distinguished Service to NASPA Region III and the Outstanding Research Award, President's Award and the New Professionals Award from NODA. In March 2014 she ended her term as the Regional Director for NASPA Region III and continues to present and write on the topics of orientation, parent and family relations, compassion fatigue and change management.


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