Advising contract in the works

The need for change in the system of academic advising has become a persistent issue on the University of Miami campus over the last couple of years.

Last Thursday evening at a meeting of the Academic Deans Administrative Council (ADAC), Student Government President Lionel Moise presented a draft of an advising compact drawn up by SG with the help of William S. Green, dean of undergraduate education and senior vice provost.

At the end of the spring 2009 semester, an electronic survey was administered to the student body to get a collective opinion about the current state of academic advising, as well as what needed to be improved.

Twenty-five percent of the UM student body filled out the online survey, a percentage that exceeded the expectations of SG.

With this information SG decided to develop an advising compact. This effort is headed by Marissa Orenstein, a member of the SG executive board.

This advising compact is, in effect, an agreement between students and advisors that clearly states the expectations and desires of both parties.

The current state of the process is that advisors are working on what they want from students and SG representatives are working on what students are looking for out of the advising process.

Orenstein is working closely on this project with Green, who oversees ADAC and serves as a liaison between student government and the individual deans and advisors from all of the different schools.

“We have to get a consensus,” Green said. “Once we get a consensus we’ll try to build on it. The compact – it’s admirable that the student government committed to this and it’s going to try to bring it about.”

According to last semester’s survey results, things that students value from their advisors are that they take a personal interest in students and can help them create a general four year plan.

The advisors expect students to come into their meetings with some sort of information about their academic goals and interests. Students should prepare for an advising appointment.

Before an advising appointment, students should print a copy of their Degree Audit (ACE), which is available on MyUM. According to the compact, advisors also want students to be clear in their outlook, and to have an open mind towards the suggestions given by the advisor.

Jan Williams-Eddleman, director of the center for freshman advising, fully supports a mutual agreement between students and advisors.

“In any situation, in a job, relationship, or public office, you have to know what’s expected out of you to do any job to the best of your ability,” Williams-Eddleman said. “I would wholeheartedly support that sort of compact, but you have to be sure that the criteria is spelled out exactly.”

The Center for Freshman Advising is also initiating new changes for next semester according to Williams-Eddleman. “This year [my freshmen advisors] are going to start four weeks early.”

Student Government hopes that the new advising compact will be enacted by later in the fall, when it comes time for academic advising for the spring 2009 semester. After that, there will be an ongoing evaluation of the advising system to expound upon any other issues that may also need to be resolved.

The compact will be discussed in further detail at next month’s ADAC meeting, where Orenstein and Moise hope to finalize details with the college deans and advisors.