The first official orientation program for new students in higher education was held at Boston University. By 1925, over twenty-five colleges throughout the nation had such courses, and Directors of Orientation began to emerge on various campuses.

As the duties became more formalized in the late 1920s, the nature of orientation jobs prompted those in the positions to start correspondence with one another for sharing of ideas. Defining the role of orientation and techniques to be used became a common need. Orientation was now becoming the final stage of admission and the retention of new students. In the 1940s, Directors of Orientation saw a need to share ideas in a more structured setting. Thus, on December 6-7, 1948, twenty-four delegates from six states met in Columbus, Ohio to discuss the theme, “Aims and Objectives of Orientation Week.” This began the annual gathering, and soon the conferences included student leaders, recognizing their central role in all orientation programs.

In the early 1970s, a structure began to emerge…the beginning of the National Orientation Directors Association (NODA). The National Bulletin (the forerunner to The Orientation Review), membership roster, Data Bank, and a series of formal committees marked the beginning of the Association. Western Michigan became the first headquarters, and in 1976 the Board of Directors began functioning formally. February 1, 1977 marked the official “birth” of NODA when a Charter of incorporation was given to the organization by the Secretary of State of Mississippi.

Key Dates in NODA History

1948 – The first national conference of orientation professionals is held in Columbus, Ohio with 24 people in attendance.

1974 – Norman K. Russell at Western Michigan University (WMU) agrees to serve as the Secretary / Treasurer / Membership Coordinator, and WMU becomes the first headquarters for Orientation Directors.

1977 – On February 1, the NODA Charter of Incorporation is approved by the State of Mississippi.

1980 – NODA becomes an active participant in the “Student Services Personnel Accreditation and Certification Conference,” later to be known as the “Council for the Advancement of Standards” (CAS).

1982 – The first Director of Regions is named, solidifying the importance of regional participation in NODA.

1983 – The tradition of exchanging school stickers and placing them on name tags begins at the NODA national conference held in Kentucky.

1987 – The first Student Leadership Award is given at regional conferences.

1993 – The Associate / Corporate membership is defined and incorporated into NODA culture. The joint NODA / FYE monograph is published.

1999 – The first Orientation Professionals Institute (OPI) is held.

2000 – The Parent Services Network is added to provide support to Parent / Family programs. The Parent Handbook is published.

2001 – A new mission along with core values of Community, Diversity, Integrity, Learning, Scholarship, and Service were adopted by NODA. The NODA Board adopts “Vision 2007” which includes four strategic priorities designed to move the Association forward.

2002 – NODA Board of Directors vote to support the first “Transfer Institute” to be held at the University of North Texas.

2004 – Regional Coordinators are elected, rather than appointed, for the first time. The Handbook for Families of Commuting Students is published.

2006 – University of Minnesota is selected as the location for the first permanent home office.

2007 – NODA hires its first Executive Director.

2008-2010 – The Board of Directors and Leadership positions go through a series of transformations, including the move from a working board to a policy board.

2013 – The Association rebrands and changes its name from the National Orientation Directors Association to NODA: Association for Orientation, Transition, and Retention in Higher Education

2016 – NODA’s Core Competencies to guide professional development of orientation, transition, and retention practitioners are approved

2017 – The first Retention Symposium takes place at the 2017 Annual Conference in Louisville, Kentucky.

2019 – NODA moves the Journal of College Orientation, Transition, & Retention to open access through the University of Minnesota libraries and publishes two new publications: ASCEND to Higher Retention Rates and Building Successful Foundations

2021 – The inaugural Transition Symposium launched virtually bringing together multiple campus partners

2021 – A pilot of the first NODA Core Competencies online course was unveiled

2022 – Institutional membership was launched to better serve the membership and open access to the Association to more individuals. 

2022 – NODA officially transition to a fully remote work environment, releasing physical office space after 15 years. 

Past Presidents

  • 1976: Mike Jones
  • 1978: Don Perigo
  • 1980: Bob Walters
  • 1982: Debbie Shriver
  • 1984: Dave Hansen
  • 1986: Yvonne Schildt
  • 1988: Jim Zakely
  • 1990: Richard Mullendore
  • 1992: Becky Smith
  • 1994: Victor Wilson
  • 1996: Daniel Robb
  • 1998: Jeanine Ward-Roof
  • 2000: Cindy Payne
  • 2002: Andrene Kaiwi-Lenting
  • 2004: Charlie Andrews
  • 2007: Craig Mack
  • 2010: Cynthia Hernandez
  • 2013: Rick Sparks
  • 2014: Beth Lingren Clark
  • 2016: Andy Cinoman
  • 2017: Shawn Smee
  • 2018: Quincy Spencer 
  • 2019: Melanie Payne
  • 2020: Heather Kovanic
  • 2021: Karnell McConnell-Black
  • 2022: Jaime Mendez