New Students Services selects new director

Rund Khayyat

Celena Mondie-Milner will be the next director of New Students Services, the Office of Student Affairs announced Tuesday. 

As director, Mondie-Milner will oversee UT orientation and such programs as Longhorn Welcome and the Start Fresh Organization Fair. Mondie-Milner said she hopes to enhance the overall student experience and increase graduation rates. 

“Students come to college with apprehension, excitement and expectations,” Mondie-Milner said. “We need to create a welcoming environment where students and families can gain helpful resources, information and support in order to start working quickly for success.”

New Student Services serves roughly 10,000 freshmen and transfer students each year, according to Joshua Cook, assistant director of the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs.

“We guarantee [new students] have everything they need to successfully transition to campus life,” Cook said.

A committee composed of faculty, staff, undergraduate students and transfer students conducted a national search before selecting Mondie-Milner. 

Soncia Reagins-Lilly, senior associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, said the committee sought someone who understood college transitions, the first-year experience and how to make the large university feel comfortable.

“Milner’s energy, enthusiasm and intelligence was very inspiring to those that interviewed her,” Reagins-Lilly said. “She is innovative and creative. Change is imminent based on her vision and partnership with various offices.” 

Mondie-Milner was the director of orientation and new student programs at Clayton State Universtiy in Georgia for eight years. Mondie-Milner said her experience at that school taught her to encourage feedback in order to understand student development and create new initiatives. 

“We are going to look at what is happening in 21st-century higher education, take a look at what’s been done, and then find a balance of bridging what currently exists with new initiatives and ideas,” Mondie-Milner said. 

A former track and field athlete, Mondie-Milner trained in Austin for the 1996 U.S. Olympic trials. While living in Austin, Mondie-Milner served as a tutor and mentor to Texas football players.  

“[Her] biggest challenge will also be her biggest opportunity — reuniting with the Longhorn family and identifying all the ways to build on the success that has occurred since she was last on campus,” Reagins-Lilly said. 

Mondie-Milner will take up her post June 1.