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April 27, 2018

SVSU director of Orientation Programs honored for making new students feel welcome

Providing a friendly, welcoming and confidence-building experience for incoming freshmen is the goal of Rachel Florence-Spaetzel, director of Orientation Programs at Saginaw Valley State University.

Her peers in the profession believe she achieves that goal, selecting her to receive the Outstanding Orientation, Transition and Retention Professional Award for Region VII of NODA, the association for orientation, transition and retention in higher education. Professionals from Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Ontario were considered for the award.

“To be recognized by these peers – who I so greatly admire – was such an honor, and I am still so moved by their choice to present me with this award,” Florence-Spaetzel said.

Florence-Spaetzel was nominated by two colleagues: Dan Strasz, director of the Academic Advisement Center, and Janna Kern, assistant director of the Academic Advisement Center.

“Rachel has done an excellent job with our orientations programs, which require coordination across multiple divisions and staff and faculty from numerous departments,” Strasz wrote. “Her creativity and innovations have led to a better experience for our new students when they start at Saginaw Valley. Multi-term registration, the implementation of Schedule Planner, and the new degree-mapping software were all piloted at orientation programs. These innovations have had a positive impact on our overall student population.”

Florence-Spaetzel trains and oversees a team of about 40 student employees who serve as orientation leaders during the summer months when new students are introduced to SVSU, register for classes and prepare to begin college in the fall. The orientation leaders work with small groups of students to help them bond and become more familiar with campus and each other.

Florence-Spaetzel received the award at the NODA Region VII Conference at McMaster University in Ontario.

For more information on the Orientation Program at SVSU, please visit