Is your orientation program filled with “talking head” administrators and presentations filled with text-laden slides? Have you implemented the latest technology and instructional methods to meet the needs and expectations of the modern-day student? Do you partner effectively with your colleagues across the university to leverage other areas of expertise and knowledge? Are you recruiting and developing a diverse set of orientation leaders that go beyond a traditional stereotype of a high-energy extrovert?

On this episode we’ll explore a variety of high-impact orientation practices that are engaging and challenging students to learn more effectively. Join Tony Doody as he speaks with Matthew Ferguson (Rutgers University), Michelle Nightingale (Tompkins Cortland Community College), and Beth Lingren Clark (University of Minnesota) as they discuss orientation models use of technology, storytelling, multimedia, flipped classrooms, social media engagement, instructional design, peer-to-peer learning, moderated panels, game shows, simulations, interactive tours, and more.

Please share your questions and best practices with prior to the show, or tweet using the #higheredlive hashtag during the episode. We’ll do our best to incorporate questions from viewers (with attribution) into the live conversation.


Episode Host

Tony Doody

Tony Doody

Tony Doody has over 24 years of practical experience and oversight in senior leadership positions within the Higher Education industry in the areas of Facilities Management, New Student Orientation, Parent and Family Programs, Leadership and Training, Marketing and Communications, Adult Learning, and Major Events and Programs. He currently serves as the Senior Director of Student Engagement at Rutgers University. Over the last 4 years, Tony has presented at over twenty universities and national conferences on topics of innovation, digital leadership, technology, and unconventional leadership. He is the recent Innovation chair for the ACPA 2014 conference, serves on the ACPA Credentialing team, and is co-chair of the ACPA Presidential Task Force on Technology. In addition, Tony has worked over 20 years as a consultant in the areas of executive coaching, leadership development, presentation skills, risk-taking, innovation, social media, conflict resolution, and team cohesiveness. Past clients include J&J, Bristol Myers Squibb, Vistakon, Navigant, Janssen, United Way, Merrill Lynch, Tumi, and Aventis Pharmaceuticals.



Beth Lingren Clark oversees and supports those who manage the processes for Orientation, Welcome Week, and other first-year programs. She has worked on creating a common campus culture for assessment while developing an intentional assessment plan in an effort to identify transitional themes and issues to alter program content and messaging to impact student success and first-year retention. Beth and the OFYP staff are dedicated to serving the needs of first-year students and their families and ensuring a seamless transition to University life.

She also co-supervisors the Coordinator for the Transfer Student Experience and is the campus liaison for the Executive Director for NODA -the Association for Orientation, Transition and Retention in Higher Education. Additionally, she supports the Office for Undergraduate in student success efforts including, New Student Convocation, International Fee Committee, Enrollment Strategy Task Force and Data Group, managing the first-year retention effort LEAVERS, among other things. Beth has served as an instructor for the College of Science and Engineering First-Year Experience course since 2011.

She received her bachelor’s degree from South Dakota State University, her Master’s from Western Illinois University, and her Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale. She is a past recipient Outstanding Research award winner, has published material related to the orientation field and is now serving as President for NODA.



Matthew Ferguson currently serves as the Director for New Student Orientation & Family Programs at Rutgers University – New Brunswick. Since 2014, his team worked to increase overall orientation attendance by 30%, piloted multiple new initiatives in the orientation curriculum such as Digital Citizenship, Social Justice and Financial Literacy and re-launched the Parent and Family Association on campus. Prior to assuming this role, he led the creation of the Leadership & Training team responsible for leadership development and training efforts for the University community. Ferguson landed in Student Affairs working as a Residential Hall Director while earning his Masters Degree in City and Regional Planning and never left the field. Ferguson spends his free-time working as a free-lance Event Planner, theatrical Stage Manager, Event Host/Emcee, Wedding Officiant & Corporate Trainer. He loves coffee (especially from Guatemala), antique cameras, live theater, storytelling, hiking, movies and breaking Guinness World Records.



Michelle Nightingale serves as the Director of Student Success Services at Tompkins Cortland Community College in Upstate New York, where she oversees all new student orientation and transition programming, student success and retention initiatives, academic advisement, and academic intervention. In her role, she chairs the college-wide First Year Experience Council and acts as a liaison to the Student Life Group. Since 2011, Michelle has been part of the leadership team for NODA (the Association for Orientation, Transition, and Retention in Higher Education), fulfilling the role of Chair for the Two-Year College Network. She also served on NODA’s Board of Directors from 2008-2010, hosted a NODA regional conference in 2012, and took part in many NODA strategic initiatives. Prior to beginning her role at the community college in 2010, Michelle worked in orientation, the first-year experience, parent and family programs, and residence life at four-year institutions including Michigan Tech, Ithaca College, and SUNY Geneseo. She holds a Master’s Degree in Student Affairs and Higher Education Administration from the University at Buffalo.