- Category: Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)
- Published: 16 September 2015
- Written by RICHARD FELICETTI | ASSOCIATE NEWS EDITOR
Monmouth University’s Honors School has appointed Dr. Stanley Blair, an associate professor of the University’s English Department as the new Assistant Dean for the 2015-2016 academic year.
As Assistant Dean, Blair will be responsible for coordinating the peer-mentoring program, assisting with extracurricular programming, advising Honors students who are preparing for their thesis experience, and expanding the core Honors curriculum.
The Honors Peer Mentoring Program, comprised of two team leaders and approximately 35 student mentors, is designed to ease the transition from high school to university for the incoming freshmen.
The mentors will maintain contact with their mentees to build relationships and address any questions or concerns the students may find troubling. Blair will oversee the program and make changes that benefit the incoming freshmen.
“Dr. Blair was needed to take the peer mentoring program to the next level and to continue to provide the extraordinary first year experience that students in the Honors School have,” said Kevin Dooley, Dean of the Honors School.
Blair’s revisions to the mentoring program were showcased during the Honor’s School Retreat on Sept. 5, in which incoming freshmen were given an opportunity to grow closer to their mentors.
The event began with the mentors assisting the freshmen with move-in, thus making the experience less stressful. Afterward, the mentors, mentees, and parents indulged in a lunch at Anacon Hall, in which Dooley highlighted the Honors School’s numerous opportunities.
Next, the mentees engaged in several activities, including writing letters to their future selves, using technology to research the various clubs on campus, and making a list of fun activities to do in the Monmouth area.
However, the most acclaimed part of the retreat came when the mentors and mentees went on a scavenger hunt. Armed with their schedules, the groups scattered across campus in search for their classrooms. Once located, the mentee was required to take a selfie in front of the room, thus verifying the location.
The selfies were later compiled into a PowerPoint collage that was showcased during dinner. Additionally, whereas previous retreats ran well into the night hours, this year’s finished before sundown, allowing the freshmen to unwind after the long day.
“The recent retreat for new Honors School students integrated technology, had a more flexible schedule that ended earlier, and focused more on the immediate practical matters of moving in and finding Fall classrooms,” said Blair.
Many mentors and mentees expressed their satisfaction with Blair’s program. Hope D’Amore, a sophomore mentor, noted that in order for the mentoring program to continue to run successfully and positively impact the freshmen, the responsibility needed to be delegated to someone such as Blair.
“I think the retreat was very well run and informative,” said freshman mentee Bill Elwell. “The class scavenger hunt was my favorite because it helped me out the most. It helped me find all my classes and taught me some shortcuts.”
On Sunday, Sept. 6, the Honors School hosted its annual sunrise walk to the beach, in which mentors and mentees are invited to take the 1.3 mile walk to the shore and observe the sun as it rises on the horizon. This year, the turnout far exceed those of the past.
Blair noted that the exceptional turnout may be an indication that the freshmen had a successful move in.
“Despite this year’s mentees numbering about half of last year’s, the number participating in the walk was double last year’s, about half the entire population of mentors and mentees,” said Blair.
Blair added that although the walk may be a sign of good things to come, more information is needed.
“Via a survey, mentees will provide feedback and comments, and mentors will be asked for the same. Such information about last year’s move-in and retreat was crucial to me in making adjustments for this year, and the same will be true for next year,” said Blair. “Beyond these surveys, regular meetings with the program’s team leaders and mentors will provide a more detailed, year-long means of determining what benefits occurred.”
Throughout the remainder of the year, mentors will be expected to frequently meet with their mentees. Be it getting lunch, going to a sporting event, or just hanging out around campus, the mentors and mentees will always be in contact.
Dooley noted that the changes to the mentoring program will heighten the mentor-mentee relationship. He added that there will be more opportunities for mentors and mentees to meet up on campus.
Through the “Think Tank” series, in which students meet up and discuss an interesting topic, and the “Cultural Engagement” series, in which students attend an event that teaches them more about a specific subject, the mentors and mentees will have numerous opportunities to strengthen their academic and social bonds.
Blair will join Dooley, Assistant to the Dean Erin Hawk, and Director of Student Standards, Advising & Services, Reenie Menditto as a part of the Honors School faculty.
“I am very grateful for the wonderful support I have received from the peer mentoring program team leaders and mentors, the Honors School office, my home department [English], the Transformative Learning team, and the rest of the university,” said Blair.