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Session targets adviser needs

More than 500 colleges participate

by Sally Claunch
The Shorthorn staff

Officials learned that cultivating close relationships among advisers and students and rewarding advisers will improve retention here.

The "Academic Advising: Campus Collaboration to Foster Retention" conference, which was sponsored by the Office of the Provost, was broadcast live via satellite Thursday to more than 500 colleges in the United States and Canada.

People attending the conference were able to interact by faxing or phoning in questions and comments.

Mary Ridgway, vice president for undergraduate academic and student affairs, said establishing a significant relationship between students and their advisers could increase retention. She said the conference could provide much-needed tips for doing just that.

"The campus is thirsty for some of the conversation we're about today," she said.
During the session, a panel of nationally recognized people in the advising field discussed how a close relationship between students and advisers is difficult to establish without certain practices.

All the panelists suggested that one of the most important practices a university could implement would be rewarding advisers. They suggested performance recognition award, more time off, and giving advisers more opportunities for promotion and tenure.

Nancy King, vice president for student success and enrollment services at Kennesaw State University, said that rewarding advisers will motivate them.

"Those things that are rewarded get done," she said.

Dr. Ridgway said the conference showed how the university has been keeping up with current ideas on how to have more effective advisers.

"It's affirming to see these things and realize how far along we are," she said. "We've done a good job in offering advisers and counselors opportunity for advancement."
She said that there has not been enough done for faculty who function in an advisery role for their students.

"In most tenure and promotion processes (for faculty), the advising process doesn't count for much," she said. "We have yet to resolve that."

Wes Habley, Center for the Enhancement of Educational Practices director, explained how important adequate training is to advisers. He said that many colleges and universities do not require or provide training.

"Advisers need to be provided with resources and tools necessary to perform [their] job," he said.

Ridgway said that the university has numerous workshops and brings in speakers to talk to advisers about giving students better service.

"To bring in people benefits the whole campus community," she said.

Habley said training should address specific objectives and strategies on how to establish a relationship with the students. He also said that advisers need to be trained in technology that can help them have accurate information when advising students.
Catherine Joseph, academic advising director for Earl Warren College at the University of California, San Diego, said that advisers must have "cultural competence."

She said students are becoming more diverse and advisers need to be able to relate to students in a multicultural setting.

Casey Gonzales, assistant dean of students and center for multicultural cooperation director, said he thought the comments about cultural competence interested him most.

"Advisers need to become more culturally aware because of the changing demographics and how the student population is changing," he said.

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