College recommends changes for academic advising process

Students may see a few changes in academic advising over the next year in hopes of improving what administrators see as an already successful advising system.

Simpson assembled a faculty task force to make recommendations regarding academic advising in spring 2006. The mission of the task force was to make the process more rewarding and efficient for both students and faculty.

For John Bolen, registrar and associate academic dean, the task force was a joy to be part of because it focused on making a good system better.

“The overall feeling is that there really isn’t anything broken that needs to be fixed,” Bolen said. “As we’ve been growing, it changes the complexion of the campus. There was a concern among some faculty that we didn’t want advising loads to get out of hand.”

A number of faculty at Simpson worked together on creating the recommendations.

Task force members included John Bolen, Maria DiPalma, Jan Everhart, Todd Little, Sal Meyers, Nancy St. Clair, Brian Steffen and Murphy Waggoner.

Members of the task force saw the numbers of advisees each faculty member has as a central concern due to the fact that new faculty can’t advise their first two years. This puts a lot of pressure on veteran faculty members to mentor more students.

One of the most useful tools that came out of the group was the proposal of having students evaluate their advisors on his or her quality of advising in a fashion similar to course evaluations. There would also be a self-evaluation by faculty.

Other recommendations from the task force include: the development of an academic advising Web site that would give students access to faculty members and advising materials; an open house for new students to meet with advisors in different areas to learn about the programs they offer; and advisor training sessions for new faculty and any current faculty that want further training

After the task force concluded in fall 2006, the recommendations were given to President John Byrd for further review. From there, they will be sent to appropriate committees for implementation.

“We hope to start implementing some (of the recommendations) within the next year,” said Todd Little, assistant dean of student academic achievement.

While these suggestions may change the face of advising, its core would continue to focus on the relationship between students and faculty.

“The faculty role will not be diminished,” said Steve Griffith, vice president for academic affairs and academic dean. “We are always trying to make it better.”

While it remains to be seen what exact changes will be made, the task force stresses the importance of how it will impact each student.

“We want them to be whole-student advisors,” said Professor of Mathematics Murphy Waggoner. “We want to get beyond just signing up for classes.”