University’s Orbit Program Aims to Keep New Comets on Course

Orbit logo

The University of Texas at Dallas’ new quality enhancement plan (QEP), focused on first-year students’ engagement and success, has been christened “Orbit: Keeping New Comets on Course” as it begins the first full semester of its pilot phase.

The naming contest for the QEP received more than 50 entries, with the Orbit theme chosen by the Marketing Committee.

“The name and the logo associated with Orbit speak to our Quality Enhancement Plan’s focus on improving the environment that supports students’ learning through programming for all students in their first year at UT Dallas,” said Dr. Jessica Murphy, dean of undergraduate education who led the QEP plan selection committee.

“The Orbit logo contains four rings, each of which represents one of our four target populations: first-time-in-college first-year students, transfer students, international students and graduate students.”

The five-year QEP will begin in fall 2018 after the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) reviews the program in March. The QEP process is a requirement for maintaining the University’s SACSCOC accreditation, a benchmark that ensures the quality of educational institutions.

QEP co-director Dr. Amanda Smith, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, outlined the steps of the process to be covered in the current semester.

“This fall, we’ll begin some foundational programs as the Development and Implementation Committee prepares Orbit to begin in fall 2018,” Smith said. “We will be running two sections of an enhanced freshman seminar and also a small transfer peer-mentor program pilot. These pilots will help lay the foundation for a successful plan.”

An additional component of the QEP was the creation of the New Student Engagement Board (NSEB), which serves to coordinate campuswide efforts to engage all students in their first year at UT Dallas.

“The NSEB had its first meeting this summer to talk about all of the great things that are happening all across campus for students in their first year at UT Dallas,” Murphy said. “Collaboration is key to the success of the board, and its first meeting included a number of people from all across campus who are looking forward to working together for our students.”

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].