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Campus collaboration wins OHIO’s Bobcat Student Orientation program national award

Ohio University's Bobcat Student Orientation (BSO) program has received national recognition from the National Orientation Directors Association (NODA), winning one of the association's top prizes for Outstanding Student Orientation Handbook.

The "My OHIO University Experience: A Guide to Academic Success" handbook was displayed at this year's NODA conference. The 43-page publication outlines everything an incoming Bobcat should know about the OHIO experience – from orientation to graduation.

Cimmeron O'Connor, assistant director of OHIO's Orientation Programs, entered the handbook in the competition and represented the University at the association's annual conference Nov. 3-6 in San Antonio, Texas. The handbook won first place in NODA's Outstanding Orientation Handbook category for higher education institutions with more than 15,000 students.

"This award means that Ohio University has the outstanding orientation handbook for colleges and universities larger than 15,000 total enrollment," said O'Connor. "We have the best in the country for our institution size. It's quite an accomplishment."

The achievement was a true campus collaboration.

According to Jennifer Klein, assistant dean of student persistence and success who oversees OHIO's BSO program, every Ohio University undergraduate college, many departments and several support units contributed to the publication. University College produced the content for the handbook in partnership with all of the colleges as well as the Division of Student Affairs.

Sandy Rawlins, a former University College employee, led the handbook's production efforts for four years before accepting a position with the Scripps College of Communication. Lora Clapp, former assistant dean of University College, took the lead on the production of this year's award-winning publication.

Clapp and Shelley Barton, a visual communications major and administrative coordinator for orientation programs, did much of the work on this year's publication. They worked together to add new design elements, such as pictures and quotes from current students, and reorganized the book to create "chapters" of information. The handbook covers a wide range of topics, including information on academics, student organizations, planning your career, tips for incoming students and much more.

Barton and Clapp also converted the book from Word to InDesign, which provided them greater design flexibility. The project also allowed Barton to implement the lessons she's learning in her visual communications classes.

"Lora Clapp and I worked very hard overhauling the book with the intent of making it easier to use, as well as graphically pleasing," said Barton. "We believe it is beneficial to both staff and departments when classified staff take classes, and the skills I gained in the classroom were extremely helpful on this project."

David Descutner, dean of University College and associate provost for undergraduate studies, played a key role in the production of the handbook.

"When we explained (to David) 'this is how this project can be done well,' he provided funding for a contract for Lora Clapp to do this work," said Klein. "Without his support, we wouldn't have been able to make the great changes that we were able to complete."

"It is always affirming to be recognized for outstanding work," said Descutner. "All across campus everyone from the faculty to the staff knows that our handbook is excellent."

BSO has been integrating incoming students into the OHIO community for more than six decades, but this is the first time OHIO's orientation program has been submitted for this award, which makes the fact that the handbook won an even bigger success.

"This award is judged by orientation professionals who have a national sense of excellence," said Klein "They determined that our publication is the best in the nation, and their opinion is well informed and highly respected."

"We are very thankful to have this recognition," said O'Connor. "The redesign of the book was a major project in our office, and we are thrilled that it has paid off."