Faculty/Staff of the Year: Beth Bouchard

Natalie Spears, Special Features Editor

Running around dousing other students in paint during Color Games and lining up on the Malesardi Quadrangle for Convocation during New Student Orientation are moments that University students will never forget. We look back on these times fondly, but rarely do we take the time to appreciate the effort that goes into making Orientation and the first-year experience so special.

Director of New Student Orientation and Student Leadership Programs Beth Bouchard is the woman behind all of the first-year success. Bouchard organizes and oversees New Student Orientation, the first-year common reading, and the First-Year Integration Series (FYIS) program. She also serves as first-year advisor. Everyone who works with Bouchard recognizes and appreciates how much she has done for the University and its students.

Bouchard has made significant improvements in her six years of directing the first-year experience. After her first year, Bouchard worked to expand the first-year common reading program by adding a faculty-led book discussion.

“The different faculty have the ability to present [the book] in whatever perspective their discipline leads them,” Bouchard said.

Bouchard has also refined the Orientation training process, placing significant emphasis on diversity and inclusivity. A few years ago, Bouchard spearheaded the addition of a hall discussion on motivational speaker Maura Cullens diversity speech given annually at the end of Orientation.

“Instead of just hearing a great lecture and leaving, they’re hearing that and then talking with the other members of their hall about how [diversity] affects them as individuals in the Bucknell community,” Bouchard said. In 2015, Bouchard worked with Associate Provost for Diversity Bridget Newell to create “Stories That Shape Us,” an FYIS program where faculty members presented aspects of diversity in the Weis Center for the Performing Arts.

Bouchard entered the field of first-year programming because she hated her Orientation and first year of college.

“I wanted to be involved in helping first-years have a better transition than I had, and helping them make connections and feel at home and feel like it’s okay to be homesick and not happy right off the bat,” Bouchard said.

First-year programming continues to grow, but Bouchard is still a professional office of one, which can be stressful. She relies on and appreciates the help from her staff, which is comprised of students. She describes how her students go well beyond the call of duty to support her and praises the love and commitment the orientation leaders have. Bouchard said that one of the most rewarding parts of her job is creating meaningful, long-lasting relationships with the students.

“There are some students who I see during their orientation and they become an Orientation Assistant or Residential Advisor, and that’s a really cool experience to see a student say ‘I had this experience and now I want to give back and make changes,’” Bouchard said.

The students who work with Bouchard similarly appreciate all of the work she does and how enjoyable she is to work with.

“I have never seen someone work as passionately as Beth does when it comes to orientation. She takes the time to make sure everyone’s thoughts are heard and then finds a way to incorporate those thoughts, all while balancing Orientation in one hand,” 2016 Orientation Coordinator James Richardson ’17 said. “The work that she does is truly amazing, and I couldn’t see anyone else doing a better job running the show!”

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