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March 10, 2004


    OSWEGO -- Kathleen Evans of Baldwinsville, associate dean of students at SUNY Oswego, was one of 10 people recognized as the nation's Outstanding First-Year Student Advocates last month at the annual Conference on the First-Year Experience in Texas.

    Bestowed by the University of South Carolina's National Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition and Houghton Mifflin Publishing Co., the award honors outstanding work on behalf of first-year college students. Evans won one of two awards allotted for colleges and universities in Oswego's enrollment category.

    "Her intelligence, energy, and initiative have fueled the many positive changes for first-year students that have occurred at Oswego and have kept us ahead of the curve in developing experiences that benefit first-year students and the college," wrote college President Deborah F. Stanley in nominating Evans for the award. "She is regarded by her colleagues as the campus expert on the first-year experience."

    Evans joined Oswego's staff in the Student Advisement Center in 1989 and coordinated New Student Orientation for several years.

    She has played a major role in developing a number of innovative programs for first-year students at Oswego. Chief among them is the Johnson First-Year Residential Experience, which became a reality in fall 1996 at her initiative.

    "She was the heart and soul of the project," said Associate Provost Rhonda Mandel, who assisted Evans in developing the academic aspects of this program.

    Annual assessments show that freshmen who participate in this program tend to have higher grades, higher retention rates and higher rates of involvement in student activities than typical students, according to Dean of Students James Scharfenberger.

    Evans was instrumental in developing and implementing FirstChoice, a comprehensive first-year experience that provides a choice of academic options designed to enhance student success. Instituted in fall 2001, the program will expand next fall to serve all incoming freshmen.

    She was also a key player in implementing the First-Year Advisement Program in fall 2000 to improve academic advising for incoming students. She helped develop the training for faculty and peer advisers to address the needs of incoming students, and she coordinated the peer adviser portion of the program.

    She co-wrote a proposal that resulted in a $95,000 grant from SUNY System Administration to fund the startup of both FirstChoice and the First-Year Advisement Program.

    Evans' efforts to enhance the college experience of Oswego's students been recognized in past honors. The Johnson First-Year Residential Experience won an award from the USA Group/Noel-Levitz for excellence in retention in 1998. Oswego was one of only eight colleges nationally to receive the award. Two years ago, Evans received the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Professional Service.

    Evans earned her bachelor's degree in business at Oswego and her master's in higher education administration at Syracuse University.

    She is the second member of the SUNY Oswego community to be recognized as an Outstanding First-Year Student Advocate. Mandel, Oswego's associate provost, was honored in 2002.

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