February 10, 2014, volume 4, number 6
To the William Paterson University Community
On behalf of the administration of William Paterson University, I want to report to our community about improvements we hope to make in supporting undergraduate student advising. As you may recall, I established a Blue Ribbon Task Force on Academic Advising in fall 2012 to study the issue of academic advising at our institution and to make recommendations for improving our system. That Task Force met throughout the 2012-13 year and issued its preliminary report in May 2013. At my request, the Task Force then spent the fall 2013 term soliciting feedback from our community in open public forums and through other mechanisms in order to issue a revised report in late December 2013. (To consult all of these documents, refer to http://www.wpunj.edu/blueribbontaskforce/report-on-blue-ribbon-task-force.dot).
We have carefully reviewed and discussed the recommendations put forward and the feedback provided, fully understanding that the feedback indicates there is little consensus about the best way to proceed. Nevertheless, in an effort to continue to make academic advisors more accessible to students, to increase student contact with advisors, to improve the advising operating system in place, and to better assess our advisement activities, we will begin to implement some of the Task Force recommendations.
- As suggested by the Task Force and many members of our community, we agree that a collaborative model of faculty and professional advisors is appropriate for William Paterson University.
- Responsibility for the overall management of academic advising will be with the Office of the Provost, and we will ask Danielle Liautaud, Associate Provost for Academic Development, to be the key person on campus responsible for academic advising. That Office will coordinate the activities of all academic advisement on campus, create an advisement council, provide training where needed, and develop an assessment model, among other activities.
- The participation of faculty in academic advisement of students, although desired from all faculty members, remains a voluntary and compensated activity at this time at William Paterson as called for in agreements negotiated several years ago between the University and the local chapter of the AFT (refer to Human Resources for those agreements). Those agreements give the administration the right to assign the number of credits to be compensated for faculty participation in advising.
- The role of Professional Advisors (staff members specifically hired with professional student development background and trained in advisement) will continue. Professional advisors will advise most freshmen and the University will work on a transition plan to have Professional Advisors work under the leadership of the College Deans and in close collaboration with the Associate Provost for Academic Development. Advisement in the Departments of Art, Music, and Nursing and the Honors College and EOF Program will continue in its current format.
- We will continue with each student assigned one advisor of record. We understand the concerns around the complexity of students majoring in education with secondary majors. All students with majors in education and a content area will have one advisor of record from the College of Education either through a faculty or professional advisor or a combination model to be developed by the Dean of the College of Education and the Associate Provost for Academic Development.
- As recommended, to improve our technology, DegreeWorks will be purchased as the University’s student degree audit system. The Registrar’s Office will be responsible for implementation of this new system in cooperation with the Associate Provost for Academic Development. The Office of the Provost is responsible for ensuring that all degree requirements approved by the faculty and the Provost are communicated to the Office of the Registrar. The Office of the Registrar is the official record keeper of the University for all degree requirements and for the ongoing updating of DegreeWorks. Due to the intricacy of programming and the necessary work needed to prepare degree requirements in a format capable of implementation, our community should expect to see a new system go live in late 2015. Training will be made available to all students and advisors and others in our community before DegreeWorks goes live.
- The Office of the Provost will provide ongoing professional development opportunities to keep all faculty and professional advisors up-to-date on curricular changes and use of the Banner System and DegreeWorks in the future.
- As recommended, the prepackaging of courses for freshmen will be reviewed on an ongoing basis by the Office of Enrollment Management in collaboration with the Office of the Provost.
- The University will develop an assessment of the academic advisement system.
- As recommended by the Task Force the ALTPIN requirement will be retained for all students.
- The Career Development Center will remain intact under the leadership of the Vice President for Student Development and will continue to assist students with career preparation needs, coordinate not-for-credit internship opportunities, run career fairs and be the primary point of contact for establishing relationships with employers in our region and state to benefit student employment opportunities.
It is one of the University’s top priorities to ensure that our students receive the best academic advisement that we can provide. As we continue to develop our advisement system, we will keep the University community apprised of our progress and the results of our assessment activities. I want to again thank the members of the Task Force for their commitment to this important project, and also to members of the University community who attended the Open Forums and provided invaluable feedback.