Two departments on campus, Parent and Family Relations and First-Year Experience Programs, will become one new program called New Students and Family Programs, per Vice Provost for Student Affairs Kent Porterfield's recent announcement.
The program will be directed by Nicola Mannetter, who was previously the interim director for Parent and Family Relations.
Mannetter said that the two programs were merged into one because the departments were already working closely together and using similar models, but merging them will create a more cohesive welcome to Gonzaga newcomers.
Over the course of the next year, the two areas will move from two offices in Crosby to one, transitioning into the new program and adjusting roles as well, she said.
“We created New Students and Family Programs to kind of bring together the work that folks were doing with parents and families of Gonzaga students and with our new student programs,” Mannetter said.
In her role as director, Mannetter said she will be bringing the two areas together and finding ways for them to work more closely together and have a shared mission and goal. Having one director will create more room for communication and collaboration, Mannetter said.
Mannetter decided to take on this role because it seemed like a good opportunity to be more engaging with families and proactive in her work, she said. She also said that it is an honor to be the person who welcomes new students and families to GU, and she enjoys working with the students who make up the two programs as well.
“One of the biggest draws for me was the students that I get to work with,” Mannetter said. “I think both GUide Core and parent and family core are just such a strong and talented group of students and it is so fun to work with them and it’s so fun to be around them day to day.”
Matt Lamsma, the dean of student engagement, said via email that New Students and Family Programs was created to better integrate the services of Parent and Family Relations and First Year Experience Programs after the former directors of these areas moved on to other opportunities. Combining parent and family and new student orientation programs is common among other universities, and it seemed like a good fit for GU, Lamsma said.
New Student and Family Programs will be in charge of communication to new students and their families and will be responsible for the programs that the two offices oversaw previously. This includes new student orientation, parent and family orientation and Fall Family Weekend, Lamsma said.
“One of the things we have heard from families, especially around Orientation program content, is 'does my student get the same information?',” Lamsma said. “Bringing these areas together should help address this question more clearly.”
From the outside, merging the two offices will not look much different, but there will be more internal changes, said James Fawcett, the program coordinator of Parent and Family Relations.
“It’s really beneficial to have us together, it streamlines communication between the two and as you can imagine, the communication for parents and new students is really kind of one in the same,” Fawcett said.
Porterfield also said that there was already overlap between the two departments, and that merging them will allow them to pull resources together and have staff support both areas.
He said he is hopeful that the creation of New Students and Family Programs will strengthen the academic section of orientation, enhance diversity, equity and inclusion, and introduce students to the university’s mission and values.
The new program will also eventually develop new opportunities to support students in their success at GU, in addition to ensuring consistent communication between the two areas, Lamsma said.
“What we hope is that by bringing these two areas together, we will create more seamless and efficient communication and programming,” Lamsma said.