Incoming freshmen can now ‘Connect’ with Pitt online and on campus

Instead of getting a PittStart this summer, new first-year students will begin arriving today in batches of 350 for two-day Panther Connect retreats.

The new optional sessions, which cost $150, are accompanied by an online orientation. In addition to sections on Academics, Student Resources, Paying for College, Student Engagement and Campus Safety, the online orientation highlights “Pitt Lingo” — such as Pitt Passport and Port Authority.

The Panther Connect sessions, which include interactive campus experiences, a trip to Pittsburgh landmarks and a service tour with Pitt Serves, will be on: June 27-28, July 11-12, July 14-15, July 18-19, July 28-29 and Aug. 4-5.

The new program grew out of a multi-disciplinary and multi-department task force created by Marc Harding, vice provost for enrollment, and Kenyon Bonner, vice provost and dean of students, after former Provost Patricia Beeson asked them to reimagine the framework and delivery for onboarding new undergraduate students.

“We are now recruiting and welcoming Generation Z to Pitt. By reimagining our new student programs, we’re delivering relevant and necessary information to engage students in a variety of positive ways,” Harding said in a news release.

In addition, Provost Ann Cudd asked the offices of Student Affairs, Admissions and Academic Affairs to develop a week-long summer program for recipients of the new Pitt Success Pell Match program. The Provost Academy will begin in August 2019.

The new orientation programs also have resulted in a staff realignment. Student Affairs will house the newly formed Office of New Student Programs, which includes First-Year Experience, First-Year Mentors, Welcome Week, Transfer and Commuter Students, Panther Connect Retreats and the new Provost Academy.

Melissa Warthen, who served as associate director of student life, has been promoted to director of the Office of New Student Programs. She has been with Student Affairs for 13 years, beginning her tenure in Residence Life before moving to Student Life, to lead new and transfer orientation, three years ago.

Breanne Donohue will join Student Affairs and serve as the associate director of New Student Programs. Donohue currently serves as the associate director of Admissions, where she has been for 17 years. She previously led PittStart.  She will lead the development, implementation and coordination of the Provost Academy, which will begin in August.

“I am really excited about our progress as we evolve our orientation and welcome week programs as well as support the Provost’s priorities. I am honored that Provost Cudd has confidence in our ability to shepherd her first major initiative at Pitt,” Bonner said in the news release.

— Susan Jones