In 1988, the graduate dean, Robert Powell, wanted to create a teaching assistant orientation program and formed a university-wide committee for that purpose. One of the committeeâ€™s tasks was to recommend a director to design and run it. Professor Jerry D. Feezel in the School of Communication was appointed as director, which was a part-time role with released time from the school. Dr. Feezel originated the program, named it, and directed it for 16 years. â€œONTAPâ€ is an acronym for Orienting New Teaching Assistants Program. ONTAP caught on as a title and became well-known and regarded nationally. During this time, there were national meetings held every other year on the training and development of graduate student instructors. Director Feezel and graduate students from ONTAP participated in several of these biennial conferences, making presentations and interacting with similar program staff from around the country.
Graduate orientation has evolved significantly in recent years, and in an attempt to be more inclusive, the program was opened up to all new graduate students instead of only those on appointment. In 2010, ONTAP was renamed GSO (Graduate Student Orientation) to reflect the change. In 2012, Graduate Professional and Academic Development (GPAD) workshops were established in an effort to support and encourage the continued growth and training of KSU graduate students.