Engage with colleagues to create new practices for student success

Thank you to those who attended our 2024 First Year Experience Conference on April 3. If you were unable to attend, you can find descriptions for the 2024 Conference below.

And check back, as we will update this page with information about the 2026 First Year Experience Conference when it is available.

The theme for 2024 was It Starts with Us: Becoming a Student-ready Campus. To ensure student success, we need to be ready to engage and support our students: academically, socially, culturally, and in all the ways they show up in our communities. At the conference, participants flipped the college readiness conversation from preparing our students to come to IU to preparing IU to facilitate the success for our students of today. Together, we reflected on what we’ve learned and discussed the best ways to move forward.

Plan your day with the conference schedule

The conference took place from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. in the Indiana Memorial Union.

9 a.m.Check in/Registration
9:30 a.m.Welcome
9:45 a.m. Keynote and Discussion
Noon Lunch
1:15–2 p.m.Session 1
2:15–3 p.m.Session 2
3:15–4 p.m. Session 3

Learn about our Keynote speaker

Tia Brown McNair presented “Navigating Student Success: Strategies for Embedding High-Impact Practices into First-Year Experiences”: What are evidence-based strategies for designing, implementing, and assessing high-impact practices that support higher levels of student engagement and learning within first-year experiences? How do we build our capacity as educators to understand the “why” and “how” of inequities related to student engagement with HIPs to improve student outcomes? Based on extensive experience working with institutions to implement and assess HIPs, this session will provide practical strategies to support student engagement with HIPs by focusing on why HIPs are important, obstacles and barriers to participation, designing HIPs with a focus on diversity and equity, and continuous improvement recommendations.

Afternoon sessions

Each session had multiple panels to choose from.

Session 1 (1:15–2 p.m.)

Indiana University Bloomington has responded to bias incidents for over 30 years with the goal to support students. This session will cover the reporting process, types of incidents that occur, and how you can support students who share incidents with you.

Presenter: Cedric Harris, Assistant Dean of Students, Student Support and Bias Education, Office of Student Life

Location: Georgian Room

The Kelley School partnered with administrative and academic units to launch the Pathways Project, a formal expansion of efforts that began in January 2022 to retain the 14% of pre-business students who leave IU after 2 terms. We'll share our story.

Presenters: Megan Ray, Director of Kelley Campus Partnerships, Office of the Dean, Kelley School of Business; Dr. Joe Lovejoy, Assistant Dean, Integrated Undergraduate Experience, Executive Director, Walter Center for Career Achievement College of Arts and Sciences; Brett Readon, Senior Academic Advisor, Admissions Undergraduate Programs Office, Paul H. O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs

Location: Dogwood Room

While higher education is often attuned to generational changes in students, we may forget that our family and supporter generational lenses also evolve. This session will explore how changes to supporter generations can impact our work.

Presenters: AJ Amini, Associate Director, Office of First Year Experience Programs; Katie Paulin, Assistant Dean for Student Support and Outreach, Office of Student Life

Location: Oak Room

During this session, we will discuss the importance of building relationships throughout the first year onboarding process, beginning with admissions and continuing through the students' first year on campus and beyond.

Presenters: Samuel Young II, Director, Groups Scholas Program; Kim Jenkins, Associate Director, Groups Scholars Program; Kathy Essex, Assistant Director, Groups Scholars Program; Jackie Coleman, Project Management Specialist, Groups Scholars Program

Location: Maple Room

Accessible Educational Services (AES) is dedicated to ensuring that students have the tools, support services, and resources that provide them with equal access to IU. We will talk about the mission of AES and how you can help make IU accessible and ready for all students.

Presenters: Cara Reader, Director of Compliance, Training and ADA, Office of Institutional Equity; Drew Bogenschutz, Director of Accessible Educational Services, Accessible Educational Services

Location: Walnut Room

In this session, we'll explore what trends, behaviors, challenges, and perspectives we are encountering with students at this particular moment in the world of academic support.

Presenters: Anthony Guest-Scott, Academic Coordinator, Student Academic Center; Leslie Robinson, Director Academic Support Center; Molly Burke, Retention Services Coordinator, Student Academic Center; Drew Koke, Basic Skills Coordinator, Student Academic Center

Location: Persimmon Room

This session highlights the new School of Public Health Honors Program, including planning, implementation, and lessons learned. Students partake in community-engaged work, partner with faculty on research and translation, and present at a professional conference or at the School of Public Health Student Research Day.

Presenters: Kathy Finley, Senior Lecturer, Dean's Fellow and School of Public Health Honors Program, School of Public Health; Catherine Sherwood-Laughlin, Clinical Professor, School of Public Health; Angela Taylor, School of Public Health Academic Advisor and Honors Program Assistant

Location: Sassafras Room

Session 2 (2:15–3 p.m.)

Recruitment and admissions work has been in a state of hyper change for several years. We will examine trends between 2022–2023 and share information from colleagues, research groups, and other organizations devoted to helping prospective students make informed decisions.

Presenters: Sacha Thieme, Assistant Vice Provost, Enrollment Management and Executive Director of Admissions; John Wilkerson, Associate Vice President for International Services

Location: Georgian Room

This session highlights resources and collaboration opportunities through the cultural centers to empower and enrich the campus experience of students by fostering connections, promoting understanding, and providing resources for success. The goal is to create a vibrant, inclusive community that nurtures the academic and personal growth of all students.

Presenters: Lillian Casillas, Director, La Casa Latino Cultural Center; Dr. Gloria Howell, Director, Neal Marshall Black Culture Center; Rabbi Sue Saikin Silberberg, Director, Jewish Culture Center

Location: Dogwood Room

This session will describe some common tech challenges for new students observed by UITS and DEPI staff, as well as provide information about UITS initiatives and programs that can assist students in resolving those issues.

Presenters: Kathryn Thompson, Student Outreach and Engagement Consultant, UITS-Digital Education Programs; April Law, IT Education Specialist; Tom Mason, Principal IT Training Consultant; Jason Fickel, IT Education Specialist

Location: Oak Room

Campus resources which provide opportunities for engagement that promote student development, diversity, and inclusion, are an important aspect of persistence, retention, and overall student success (Kuh, 2008). The Faculty and Staff for Student Excellence (FASE) Mentoring Program utilizes a leadership development model that incorporates student-led initiatives, faculty involvement, and community–all of which are designed to enhance student belonging and combat imposter syndrome. Attendees of this session will be exposed to practices that contribute to becoming a student-ready campus.

Presenters: Patrick D. Smith, PhD, Executive Director, Mentoring Services and Leadership Development, Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Ana Almanza, Coordinator, FASE Mentor Apprenticeship Program (MAP)

Location: Maple Room

This session will cover the various elements of the 21st Century Scholars Program and how our programming and support services are designed to foster success. These elements were based on best practices and research involving the scholars.

Presenters: Vincent Isom, Director, 21st Century Scholars Program; Rebecca Guest-Scott, Academic Advisor and Career Initiatives Coordinator, 21st Century Scholars Program

Location: Walnut Room

You may be the source of 'adulting' information for things that even fully minted grownups find terrifying. Join a representative of the IU Student Health Center to learn quick tips for guiding young humans through the wild world of health care.

Presenter: Marcey Tidwell, RN, IU Student Health Center

Location: Persimmon Room

The changes in direct admission highlight emerging trends in advising. As we prepare to see the next wave, what have we learned about communication, connecting with students, meeting students’ needs, and assisting their transition to higher ed?

Presenters: Serena Leann Ostrander, Academic Advisor, Psychological and Brain Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences; Jennifer Kellett, Academic Advisor, Psychological and Brain Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences; Logan Johnson, Advisor, Psychological and Brain Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences

Location: Sassafras Room

Session 3 (3:15–4 p.m.)

Public Universities are known for being at their core, a “marketplace of ideas” where there is a free exchange of opposing concepts and viewpoints. This session will focus on differentiating what is protected speech, unprotected speech, and where expressions of bias and hate speech fall within this continuum. Attendees will leave with a better understanding the policies, procedures, and guidelines for exercising free speech at Indiana University.

Presenters: Kathy Adams Riester, Associate Vice Provost for Student Life and Dean of Students, Office of Student Life; Cedric Harris, Assistant Dean for Student Support and Bias Education, Office of Student Life

Location: Georgian Room

This session will overview IUB retention metrics in relation to the IUB 2030 strategic plan. We'll explore data by student demographic and academic factors, identifying trends and challenges. Metrics will be given within a peer institution framework.

Presenters: Adrienne Sewell, Director of Advising, University Division; Linda Shepard, Project Manager/Leader, Institutional Analytics

Location: Dogwood Room

Like other underserved groups, rural students have unique strengths and challenges that affect their success at IU. This facilitated panel will explore definitions of "rural," rural students' unique qualities, and how faculty/staff can support rural students' success.

Presenter: Colleen Rose, Director of Student Engagement, IU Center for Rural Engagement

Location: Oak Room

This session will explore how faculty and staff can fulfill their obligations as responsible employees in a trauma-informed way that protects and empowers students and their sense of belonging and safety here at IU.

Presenters: Lea Jones, Prevention Coordinator, Office for Sexual Violence Prevention and Victim Advocacy; Jenna Chase, Confidential Victim Advocate, Office for Sexual Violence Prevention and Victim Advocacy

Location: Maple Room

Explore strategies to invest in the student employee experience that show the significant role every staff member can have in supporting the student employee's developmental experience and enrich the student’s sense of belonging.

Presenters: Mary Clare Bauman, Associate Director for Student Employment, Career Development Center; Neil Smith, Organizational Consultant, Auxiliary Human Resources

Location: Walnut Room

This session will look at mental health trends with students, as well as the impact of substance use on mental health.

Presenters: Luciana Guardini, Outreach Coordinator, Counseling and Psychological Services, IU Health Center; Heather Barrett, Director, Substance Use Intervention Services, Office of Student Life

Location: Persimmon Room