Daily Egyptian

Administration to make academic advising more “centralized” by spring semester

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Daily Egyptian file photo

Daily Egyptian file photo

Daily Egyptian file photo

By Kitt Fresa

Chancellor Carlo Montemagno is working on a plan to make the university’s academic advising process more “centralized,” he said in a speech last month.

Associate provost Lizette Chevalier said this new plan is expected to be fully implemented by Jan. 1.

The new advising department will have four responsibilities, Chevalier said. These are determining students’ academic majors, making a plan of study for each student, ensuring students know where campus services are and helping students complete degrees on time.

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“What we want to do is see that the experience of students and what advisers provide to students really do have all the core elements,” Chevalier said.

The university’s plan will include separate academic advisement centers, Chevalier said.

“If you’re in a degree program that’s serviced by that center, that’s where you go,” she said. “We will try to get you in with the same adviser.”

Though the idea will be to keep students with the same adviser throughout their time at SIU, Chevalier said there could be circumstances in which a student’s adviser could change.

“You may change majors, an adviser may advance in their career or take other positions or retire,” Chevalier said. “We can’t assure that the adviser that you come in with does your graduation clearance, but that’s the idea — to build those relationships.”

Chevalier said the centers will likely be led by the chief academic adviser of each individual department “to ensure that we’re doing all of these outlines of what we need to do to have advisement excellence on this campus.”

“They’ll also be the critical people for doing an assessment of our processes and to implement change where we need to improve what we’re doing,” she said.

Under the new advisement system, Chevalier said it’s possible that advisers’ offices could be moved.

“If we start realigning into new colleges and new schools, of course logic tells me there may be some physical movement on our campus in terms of where programs are going to be and where these advisers are going to be,” she said, referring to Montemagno’s plan to reorganize academic programs into new colleges. “So centralization allows me to look at the quality of the service and maintain the service while we go through all these changes.”

The new advising department will make sure advisers have accurate information about academic programs and the students they see, Chevalier said.

“I should be able to, at the beginning of the semester or halfway through the semester, say ‘Here are the students in that program, here’s their GPA, here’s the curriculum,’” she said. “They need to have up-to-date information on the curriculum and how it’s changing.”

The administration is also looking to work with the Center for Teaching Excellence to improve adviser training and help them stay up-to-date on SIU policy and procedures, Chevalier said.

She said these changes are more about improving student experience than saving money.

“We’re not taking away positions or adding positions or anything like that,” Chevalier said. “This is about retaining our students and providing first class service to students in terms of academic advisement. I think the bigger challenge is to fill the open positions and to prepare ourselves for growth.”

She said Montemagno’s plan doesn’t stem from a problem with the current advising system, but rather it is a strategy to keep improving existing structures.

“We’re going to take a look at those assessment points of continuous improvement and improve what we’re doing,” Chevalier said. “If the university is going to go through an exciting time of change, let the advisers be apart of that change and make it successful.”

Staff writer Kitt Fresa can be reached at [email protected]dailyegyptian.com

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