Energized. Focused. Together.
That describes the spirit within a College of Education Office of Academic Advising undergoing a transition in the past year that resulted in:
- a first-ever position of director, with the hiring of Robert Welch.
- broadened job descriptions and expectations that reinforce the COE academic advising staff as a front line in building educational relationships with prospective and current students.
- a full staff of advisers, with the addition of three new advisers in the past year.
- greater integration among the education, health and human services advising team members.
“The work of our advisers is now multi-faceted, and goes well beyond ‘here’s your schedule.' We’re more integrated as a team, which is being reflected in the experience of our current and prospective students,” says Colleen Mulholland, current interim dean and previously associate dean of undergraduate studies and student support services. “The advisers’ job descriptions were updated to reflect the critical role our COE advisers play in the areas of recruitment, retention, advising, student development and school/community college partnerships.”
Adds Welch: “We want our academic advisers to be the best at what they do. It’s about sharing, teamwork and loving what they do. We’re embedding best practices and working to make advising everything it can be.”
Welch joined the college in December 2018. He brings 15 years of experience in higher education, working in federal and state grant-funded programs, student support services, athletics and multicultural affairs.
“Looking forward, we want to build on what we have, who we are," Welch says, noting he and the team of advisers connect with more than 2,200 undergraduates annually. “We know the reputation of the College of Education stands out. We want to continue and broaden it so we can attract more students and a more diverse population of students.”
Excellence in student support
He and Mulholland are working with the team to craft a vision statement that brings the office together for excellence in student support. They’re also taking steps to create shared experiences for students, whether they are visiting advising centers in Schindler Education Center or the Wellness and Recreation Center. At WRC, the college renovated space to create a new center with lobby area and student space similar in look and feel to the SEC center.
The role of academic advisers has evolved since its emergence in the late 1970s. They have become a critical part of the educational experience as they help guide prospective and enrolled students on their path to and through college, complementing faculty advisers who help mentor and support the academic growth of COE students.
“We try to reach students holistically. That encompasses academics, the professional and personal for student success. The role of today’s academic adviser will continue to grow as the changing needs of our students do, too,” says Welch.
“We now have more cohesion and momentum to ensure students have the information they need,” Mulholland says. “It’s been a concerted effort to build the capacity for student support across the entire college. We are more customer service-oriented, and are committed to putting resources in place to support student success.”