Janetta McDowell tapped into her organizational skills, strong belief in teamwork and passion for working with students to take the Rose Float program to new heights as director.
Now, the Cal Poly Pomona alumna (’97, liberal studies) will take on a new role designed to ensure that students are getting the additional support and encouragement they need to be successful as the university’s director of first-year and transition experiences.
The post, effective July 1, involves the spearheading and coordination of orientation services and enhancing parent and family initiatives, as well as the creation of transition programs for students.
McDowell said she sees this new opportunity as another way to give back.
“I want to expand my professional portfolio and support the institution that has given so much to me,” she said.
McDowell, who was an all-American track and field athlete for the Broncos, also has a master’s degree in counseling with an emphasis in student development from Cal State Long Beach. She has held several posts since returning to campus 15 years ago, previously serving as interim coordinator of the Women’s Center, interim senior coordinator for the Office of Student Life and Cultural Centers (OSLCC) and first-year experience student affairs teaching partner with the College of Engineering.
During her stint as administrator in charge for the OSLCC, she not only provided day-to-day oversight, but she served as the primary advisor for the ASI Senate and assisted First-Year Experience faculty members supported with teaching partners in the Division of Student Affairs.
McDowell, who also had previously served as the senior coordinator of Rose Float, became the director of Rose Float operations in 2015. Under her leadership, the program of 1,500 campus, community and alumni volunteers earned national and international recognition.
“Janetta’s professional experiences that advance collaboration, innovation, inclusion, experiential learning and student success make her more than well suited to lead this important area,” said Eileen Sullivan, interim vice president for student affairs. “I know she will bring all of these qualities, and so much more, to the position.”
With summer in full swing, McDowell is hard at work overseeing orientation programs for incoming freshmen and transfer students.
“We hope to create educational opportunities for incoming students, as well as provide an opportunity for them to be engaged on campus,” she said. “We’re engaging with our academic partners and campus community to be able to create a Bronco family of sorts.”
While the push to add programs that help students transition beyond orientation are in development, efforts aimed at parents and families have been in place for a while, McDowell added.
The campus offers a parent component to orientation, bringing in mothers, fathers and guardians on the first of day of the two-day event to give families a chance to ask questions and provide them with tools they can use to support the students, she said. The plan is to continue to enhance programs for families, she added.
As for the transition component, McDowell will work with campus partners, including academic departments and the Division of Student Affairs, to develop programming to extend the support students receive as they progress to sophomores, juniors and seniors.
“Orientation is the beginning of the educational journey,” she said. “Transition programs will be part of the support needed to make sure students are successful throughout their experience on campus.”
Despite the new post, McDowell said Rose Float is an effort she plans to remain involved with in some way, she said.
“I love it. It’s a family,” she said. “I’ll continue to support the program.”