CPO director leaves after Orientation Week

By Carolina Bolado

Following a successful Orientation Week, the College Programming Office (CPO) is undergoing a change in leadership. Heather Johnson, the former director, was replaced last Tuesday by Linda Choi, who is currently serving as acting director after only two months in the CPO.

Orientation ended on Sunday and, the next day, Johnson was fired from the position she has held for almost three years. “I was terminated on Monday,” Johnson said. “I was shocked.”

While all planned orientation events went on as scheduled, first-year students, especially those with international flights, arrived gradually due to the aftermath of the events of September 11, and some orientation volunteers found communication to be a problem.

“I felt that the communication between the College Programming Office staff, student directors, assistant directors, and O-aides was lacking,” said Leslie Cooke, an orientation aide (O-Aide). “For example, room assignments, tasks, meeting places and projects were often communicated by e-mail only hours before they were to take place.”

The yearly orientation has changed over time as different individuals have become involved and the University has received feedback on the program. “One of the things that’s important every year about orientation is the evaluation process that we do with students afterwards,” said Bill Michel, deputy dean of student services.

As for Orientation 2001, Johnson considers it a success. “Of the six orientations that I’ve been involved with, I think this was the best one,” Johnson said. “Under the circumstances, I think this was incredible.” Choi, who graduated from the Business School in 1996, has been working as an assistant director in the College Programming Office for only two months but says that she intends to stay in the office for a long period of time. “I’m excited about this opportunity. The College Programming Office does a lot of great things for the students,” Choi said.

Choi does not intend to change any of the CPO’s activities for the time being and is currently preparing for Parents’ Weekend in October. The CPO is in charge of Senior Week and Taking the Next Step, a program which features alumni of the College who speak to third-years about their professions, as well as the Second-Year Dinners, which were begun by Johnson. She also introduced a new session in Orientation on traditions at the University.

Johnson graduated from the College and worked for the University before becoming the CPO Director. “It was an incredible opportunity,” Johnson said. “[Deputy Dean of Student Services] Bill Michel and I were good friends, and together we created the concept of the office.”

Amanda Geppert worked with Johnson during the past school year and is responsible for bringing about the student services calendar. “[Johnson] did have a very strong vision for services for students, and she’s done some really good things,” Geppert said.

According to Elizabeth Carger, who worked in the New Students Office under both Johnson and the previous director, orientation will remain a program for the College to refine. “It’s clear that there were some problems with NSO even reaching back to before [Johnson] was in charge,” said Carger, a fourth-year international studies concentrator.

“The director of College Programming is an overwhelming job. It’s always been that way, and I think that it’s really important that the administration gives it the attention that it needs. It’s an important office, and it really does merit a closer look.”

The office is going through “growing pains,” according to Geppert, who graduated from the College in 1995. Despite this, it will continue to provide the same services to students as it has in the past. “I’m confident that they will continue to do a great job,” Michel said.

Johnson, who took the position with only a two-year commitment, plans to consider returning to graduate school.