UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A slate of annual events meant to familiarize students with State College was named for an outstanding collaboration award from the Association for Orientation Transition Retention in Higher Education (NODA).
The two "Living in One Neighborhood" (LION) events Bash and Dash, as well as a dinner, bring together students, Penn State faculty and staff, and local borough leaders and residents each year just after students return to the University Park campus. The LION activities are a part of Student Orientation and Transition Programs’ (SOTP) Welcome Week events, organized with the help of Student Affairs, University Police and Public Safety, Off-Campus Student Support and the University Park Undergraduate Association, along with State College Police and the borough’s Public Works and Community Engagement offices.
Molly Nulty is the assistant director of welcome programs and a key organizer of the LION Bash and Dash events with SOTP. Though the mid-November snowstorm kept her from traveling to Memphis for the conference when the awards were announced, she said the office was excited by the recognition for collaboration.
“The LION events have become a big part of the Welcome Week portfolio over the last few years and we are excited to see that continue and expand moving forward,” she said. “It helps students learn not only about the community but about the resources and services that are available here to help them feel at home.”
It was the second year for the Dash 5k run/walk and the first year it was held off-campus on downtown State College streets, attracting a bigger-than-expected turnout of 122 runners. Nulty said she noticed that both incoming and returning students weren’t familiar with State College’s streets and neighborhoods. So, she suggested giving people the opportunity to learn State College the way she did: by putting sneaker to pavement.
“When I first moved here, that was a way that I learned the area,” she said. “We wanted to help students do the same, and community members as well. It was a good mix of runners that took part.”
As a bonus, the event also raised $2,000 for Centre Safe, recently renamed from the Centre County Women’s Resource Center.
The Bash is part block party, part place for residents and students to learn about resources in the area. It continues to grow, with more than 150 engagement stations and 2,000 attendees this past year centered around Allen Street.
NODA is an international organization chartered in 1976 and provides education and development in the field of college student orientation, transition and retention. The conference the weekend of Nov. 17 was through their Extended Orientation Institute and covered the exact sorts of programming SOTP provides for students to help them continue to acclimate to campus. Nulty said it’s been a trend over the years for schools to enhance that programming.
“They (schools) recognize the need to help students continue to transition," said Nulty. "It’s one thing to have students come to campus over the summer, and give all this information about resources and what it’s like to be a student on campus, but then they go home for six or eight weeks and they come back to campus. We want to help them transition back to actually being back here for more than a day at a time.”
The Office of Student Orientation and Transition Programs is part of Penn State Student Affairs and Penn State Undergraduate Education. Penn State Undergraduate Education is the academic administrative unit that provides leadership and coordination for University-wide programs and initiatives in support of undergraduate teaching and learning at Penn State. Learn more about Undergraduate Education at undergrad.psu.edu.