Page 11 - 2012 Lycoming Summer Magazine

On Sunday,
June 10, prior to the
arrival of soon-
students and their
families for the first
summer orientation
session of the year,
Andrew Kilpatrick,
assistant dean for freshmen, addressed
the students of his Summer Orientation
Staff (SOS):
Today, none of us are declaring our
candidacy for president of the United
States. Today, none of us are performing
a lifesaving surgery on anyone. Today,
none of us are flying to the moon. But
today, what we are doing is welcoming
young people and their parents into this
Lycoming College community.”
From its inception, the role of the
Freshman Dean’s Office has always been
to help new students – freshmen and
transfers alike – to transition to campus
life and college-level work.
In 1964, Jack Buckle, dean of
students, piloted the College’s first
summer orientation program. Freshmen,
accompanied by at least one parent, were
invited to campus in groups of 50 or 60
for a two-day orientation. Students were
tested, advised and given class schedules
and library instruction. While they were
occupied, the College provided a full
program for their parents, including
introductions to the academic and
student life programs.
In 1990, as part of an effort to
bolster retention, encourage academic
achievement and build College loyalty,
Mary Wolf became Lycoming’s first
assistant dean for freshmen. She
launched the freshman orientation
program, Crossing Thresholds, which
became an instant success, and remained
in the position until Regina Collins filled
the role in 1999.
At Lycoming, we take pride in being
a small, private, four-year, residential,
liberal arts college,” says Kilpatrick, who
transitioned from his role as director of
residential life to the new position after
Collins retired at the end of the 2011-12
academic year. “That’s who we are and
that’s what we do. We strongly believe
that integration and retention go hand-in-
hand. The purpose of the freshman dean
is not only to welcome people on day
one, but to support them throughout that
entire first year.”
In addition to summer orientation,
that support includes First Weekend
programming, academic support and the
freshman community service project.
The office works extensively with nearly
every other department on campus.
One of the things I enjoyed most
about the position was the opportunity
that I had to work with, I believe, every
individual on this campus,” said Collins.
I don’t know that everybody can say
that, but it has been a pleasure for me
to get to know everybody, to work with
them and to appreciate how generous and
kind everybody was.”
Students and parents benefit trem-
endously from that level of integration.
One of the things I emphasized at
orientation is to trust in the decisions the
students are making, and also to trust in
the fact that we as a campus community
provide tremendous
amounts of support,”
continued Collins.
Students rarely make
decisions on their own.
They always have
the guidance and the
advice of their advisors,
their coaches, their
professors, their RAs
and the student orientation staff. There’s
an awful lot of support surrounding
One of the connections the former
assistant dean for freshmen enjoyed
most was a “really special relationship”
with Lycoming’s coaching staff. Now,
Collins will enjoy the other side of that
relationship, as she will take over as head
coach of the men’s and women’s cross
programs in addition to teaching part-
time in the mathematics department.
Kilpatrick is transitioning smoothly
into his new role, having just finished
welcoming the third group of summer
orientation students. “I loved my
previous job, and I already love my new
To the position, he brings the same
philosophy that he held in his former
role in residential life – that every single
student who comes to Lycoming is
My role is to go after the one but
never lose sight of the 99,” Kilpatrick
said. “There may be somebody limping
along in regards to academics, or dealing
with social issues or something else. The
freshmen dean’s role is to reach out to
this person, and that’s the real blessing
of a small college like Lycoming. Small
is important, small is good and small is
not a negative. It allows us to go after
the one but never stop giving energy and
attention to the 99.”
The Class of 2013 during its First Weekend activities.