Associate Dean Lisa Bortman Named Advocate of the Year

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


The purpose and function of the First Year experience at Whittier College is to help students successfully transition to college and develop dispositions of academic and social engagement.

Each year, presidents of American post-secondary institutions are invited to nominate one educator on their campus for this award. A national panel of distinguished educators review the nomination portfolios and select 10 individuals as the nation’s Outstanding First-Year Student Advocates. 

As a group, these individuals mirror the diversity of American colleges and universities. They share the common goal of improving the educational experience of first-year students, yet their methods for doing so are uniquely responsive to the particular institutional settings of which they are a part.

The programs consist of the First Year Mentoring Program, participation in Freshman Orientation,Living Learning Communities, Freshman Writing Seminar. These programs attempt to provide a mechanism for a smooth transition to the first year of college. They foster the development of relationships with faculty, students and upper class peer mentors. They teach students how to be active, contributing members of the Whittier College community.

Faculty mentors teach the Freshman Writing Seminar and also serve as first year student advisors (mentors) until students are ready to declare a major. Mentors reserve time to meet with students each week to discuss issues such as: succeeding academically, developing educational goals, investigating majors, planning for careers, graduate school, internships and study abroad, and meeting graduation requirements. Advisors/Mentors also refer students to the many services available at Whittier College.

All first year students live in Living Learning Communities. These consist of cohorts of about 16 students living in close proximity in the first year residence halls. Students in a Learning Living Community enroll together in the Freshman Writing Seminar taught by an instructor who usually serves as their faculty mentor as well. The Freshman Writing Seminar is linked with another academic course that students also take together as a cohort.

Through the first year experience, students develop close ties with faculty, upper class students and peers. They learn the meaning and importance of a liberal arts education.

First year program consist of:

  • Freshman Orientation

  • Academic Links

  • Living Learning Communities

The first year experience is designed to help students:

  • Succeed academically and socially

  • Acquire a rich sense of value and relevance of college education

  • Develop a proactive approach to learning and fully understand their educational options and career opportunities