The Advising Study Group recognized that advising, mentoring and coaching students occurs in many different settings. The Study Group recommended that we distinguish between faculty advisers and mentors, and emphasize opportunities for establishing relationships with students, with the key element of advising in this setting being the “interpretation of the curriculum.” With this advising role in mind for faculty members, the study group recommended training for faculty advisers, with perhaps special sessions for new faculty members. The Study Group recommended recognition of faculty members’ contributions to advising, but did not feel that advising should be more explicitly assessed in faculty reviews than is already the case. Nevertheless, it noted that some faculty members carry a heavy advising burden and that this needs to be recognized. The Study Group also recommended the development of a single web location for advising materials, the establishment of a broadly-based advising coordinating group, and special programming for particular cohorts of students such as “high risk” students, international students, and transfer students. It also recommended exploring new strategies such as the organization of “advising clusters” and the establishment of pre-major (first and second year) advising that might be linked to first-year courses.
Implementation of a number of these recommendations took place relatively quickly after the Study Group finished its work, such as:
- Organization of an advising coordination committee.
- Capping assigned advising loads going forward from 2012/13 at 18-20 (this will take another couple of years to show its full effect).
- The launch of Quiet Weeks in 2012/13.
- The launch of an Advising Open House in 2012/13.
- Redesign of the advising website hosted on the Registrar’s site.
- Redesign of new faculty adviser training.
- On-going development efforts linked to advising included sessions in the August 2012 Faculty meeting, Academic Leadership meetings, and CILA programming.
- Establishment, starting this Fall (2014), of a group of 20 faculty advisers specializing in advising international students.
- Relocation of the Academic Support Center to the academic division.
- Improvement in quality of student-faculty interactions, as students reported in the 2013 NSSE). After several years of results that indicated such interactions at St. Olaf were inferior to those at other participating baccalaureate colleges, the 2013 survey reports that these interactions are of a quality and effectiveness equal to that reported for other baccalaureate institutions participating in the survey.
- In addition to the work done in the Academic Division, student advising has been enhanced through the establishment of the One Center, the Piper Center’s Second Year Retreat and special programming for first-year students over interim, and the establishment of a post-baccalaureate fellowships position in the Piper Center.