Behind the Scenes of New Student Orientation at Penn

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Media Contact:Jacquie Posey | jposey@upenn.edu | 215-898-6460August 29, 2012

Troy Majnerick knows every place on campus to get ice.  That bit of institutional knowledge isn’t a requirement for his job as associate director of New Student Orientation and Academic Initiatives, but it’s valuable information this week.  It’s NSO or New Student Orientation week at Penn.

For months, Majnerick’s team has been mapping out the logistics to coordinate an exhaustive slate of more than 175 academic, cultural and social events.  The programming includes staged readings and performances of this year’s Penn Reading Project, the award-winning play Doubt, ungraded preceptorial courses, visits to Philadelphia arts and cultural institutions, a Penn Museum toga party and more.

The week of activities begins Aug. 29 and runs through Sept. 4.  Approximately 2,500 first-year domestic and international students, 150 exchange students, and 150 transfers are expected to participate.

Majnerick has coordinated NSO activities since 2003.  Katherine Mosbrucker, a May 2012 Wharton grad, joins him as NSO senior team coordinator.  This summer they conducted a crash course in event planning for a small team of Penn student NSO coordinators.

“We are prepping them on how to do this in the professional world,” Majnerick says. 

“They step into a well established program,” Mosbrucker says.  “They learn how to work in an office space, how to plan events, how to get 3,000 people in and out [of an event space] over the course of a three hour event.  We’re calling, emailing, working with vendors in Philadelphia and sending out letters to vendors to see if they’re interested in participating in NSO.”

A tentative schedule has been in place since April with tentative being the operative word for some activities until the day they’re slated to begin.

“I’m at a point where I don’t get flustered,”Majnerick says with a shrug.  “This is what I try to pass on to my student workers. Last year, we had a hurricane [Irene], and we had to squash early move-in and training PHINS into one day.  We are problem solvers.  We are flexible.”

PHINS or Peers Helping Incoming New Students are students trained to aid incoming freshmen and transfer students adjusting to campus.  They also help new students make online connections between them and their classmates on the Penn Class of 2016 Facebook page.  

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