Changes to the First Year Program will result in a revamped Passport and Welcome Week for incoming students.
According to an email from Dr. Robert Rhodes, provost, to all faculty and staff, both programs now exist under new leadership and are no longer part of the First Year Program.
Passport now operates under the Office of Enrollment, but was previously headed by Dr. Eric Gumm, registrar and director of the First Year Program. Welcome Week switched from being directed by Gumm to being led by the Office of Student Life.
“These two groups have expertise creating meaningful experiences for prospective and current students, and I am glad they have agreed to lead these important initiatives,” Rhodes said in his email.
The First Year Program remains to oversee the academic side of the ACU experience, including CORE classes and the Peer Leader program.
Gumm has been named interim director of general education, and an increased workload resulted in the need to find new leadership for the two programs, according to Rhodes’s email.
Chris Riley, vice president for Student Life, will direct his office in organizing Welcome Week.
“We want to build on the great work that has happened over the past several years in the First Year Program,” Riley said, “by providing a fun and exciting experience that welcomes students into our community and leaves no doubt that they belong at ACU.”
Caddie Coupe, director of new student programs, works closely with Riley and is playing a major role in Welcome Week planning.
“Dr. Rhodes and Dr. Susan Lewis, (vice provost), decided that it was in the best interests of our university and our students to move Welcome Week to Student Life,” Coupe said. “This is a great opportunity for us to look at our strengths and our weaknesses and really look at what students need the most.”
Coupe said Candlelight Devotional will remain as part of Welcome Week, while new activities will be introduced. Other events, such as Night at the Paramount, may see some change in an attempt to liven up the experience, she said.
“It’s an opportunity for us to maybe enhance some of the events that we already have,” Coupe said.
She said student director roles for Welcome Week are expected to change as well, with more options available to students. Rather than staying the entire summer like they did in the past, student directors will be required to return to campus Aug. 1. Students interested in graphic design, event planning or leadership will also have the opportunity to use their skills to prepare for Welcome Week.
While the programs have shifted away from the First Year Program and the academic side of the ACU experience, Coupe said she believes it’s important that incoming students are shown the ropes for all aspects of life as a student, from joining clubs to figuring out their class schedules and locations.
“Of course we want to maintain that academics is the number one reason why students are coming here to ACU,” Coupe said. “They’re here to get an education.”