THE ORIENTATION PERIOD
AT the end of the first decade of the twentieth century a system of mentors was introduced into the College of Engineering (see Part VII: Mentor System). They were concerned with the freshman and his troubles, especially those of an academic origin. Although the plan worked well, no similar steps were taken in the other undergraduate colleges of the University for fifteen years.
In 1925 Clarence Cook Little became President of the University. He came from the University of Maine, where, chiefly through his efforts, a Freshman Week had been organized. Orientation work had been known as far back as 1888, but there had been no widespread movement to introduce a system of orientation activities into our colleges and universities in general before the postwar period.
In the fall of 1926 about thirty members of the faculty of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts were tentatively appointed as advisers, and the freshmen of that year were assigned to these men for aid in the problem of election of studies (see also Part II: Office of the Registrar; Part III: Administration and Curriculum).
At a convocation held in University Hall in the fall of 1926, President Little said: "The establishment of Freshman Week has been considered. Next autumn we hope to have the freshmen come on a week before the upperclassmen so that they may become oriented before entering the real work of college."
September, 1927, saw the creation of the first official Freshman Week, as it was called then, under the direction of Professor William A. Frayer. The change in the name of this work to Orientation Period came in 1930, when it was felt that some help might well be offered to new students who came not as freshmen but as members of the higher classes.
In 1927 the program was extended to cover eight days, with a full series of activities every day. Experience soon showed, however, that it was possible to overdo the matter. In 1929 Frayer resigned from the University faculty and Philip E. Bursley ('02, A.M. '09) was put in charge. The length of the program was then reduced from eight days to approximately five, and at the same time the number of activities was reduced, in order to give the student a "breathing spell" from time to time.
The program of events has varied Page 300somewhat from year to year. It will never become fixed, in all probability, since changing demands and varying conditions must be recognized in the formation of the schedule for any year. The idea of advisers for the entire first year has finally won approval, and in every undergraduate college of the University mentors or counselors are now functioning, ever ready to assist any freshman. In the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts advisers are provided for students in their sophomore, junior, and senior years. These men attempt to help the student to solve difficulties which hamper him in his college career.
The complexity of rules and regulations laid down by the authorities of the University have made imperative some kind of a check and guidance for all students. Such guidance seems to be best given at present by our Orientation Period and current freshman counseling.
MS, "Minutes of the Meetings of the Faculty of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts," 1925-40, Univ. Mich.
President's Report, Univ. Mich., 1925-40.
Proceedings of the Board of Regents …, 1923-40.