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June 11, 2013, volume 3, number 21

To the William Paterson University Community

The Blue Ribbon Task Force on Academic Advising at William Paterson University has completed its work and issued its Report and Recommendations on May 16, 2013.  As you will recall, I convened this Task Force to address the issue of undergraduate student academic advising at William Paterson University and to recommend improvements in our present model. Although various groups had worked on academic advising in the past, producing white papers and other recommendations, a systematic and up-to-date review had not been completed in some time and many groups on campus expressed dissatisfaction with our present state of academic advising. The Task Force began its work in fall 2012 and we are now ready to move to the next step of a community-wide discussion of the Report in fall 2013.

First, let me thank the Task Force for its work, its diligence and its thoughtful consideration of academic advising. The Task Force included faculty representatives from each College:  Elizabeth Ekmekjian (Cotsakos College of Business); Eileen Gardner (College of Science and Health); Linnea Weiland (College of Education); Kate Makarec (College of Humanities and Social Sciences); Diana Peck (College of Arts and Communication); Tracy Soto, student representative; Glen Sherman, dean of students;  Marc Schaeffer, senior academic advisor/career counselor, Gloria S. Williams Advisement Center; and Tina Lesher, representative from the Faculty Senate Advisement and Registration Council. The Task Force was co-chaired by Claudia Schrader, associate provost for academic development and Tom Grites, a nationally known expert on academic advising and assistant provost at Richard Stockton College.

The Task Force met thirteen times in-person and once via conference call – each meeting ranging from two to three hours in length – along with ongoing email exchanges from November 2, 2012 through May 10, 2013. Various background reading material on advising as well as William Paterson University reports and documents on advising were utilized by the Task Force. All of the background material will be available on the website.

The specific charges to the Task Force were to:

1. Define and describe the characteristics of high-quality undergraduate academic advising programs and services that will best serve the academic, student, and professional development needs of students at William Paterson University.

2. Review models of advisement used across the country and recommend a model for organization and delivery of those programs and services, taking into account our institutional culture, strengths, and resources.

3. Recommend an assessment strategy for advising that is consistent with our existing assessment programs and practices and that will assure that advising programs and services are subject to continuous improvement.

The Task Force conducted its first formal presentation of its Report to the deans, associate deans and the President’s Cabinet on May 16, 2013.  As the next step in the process and to ensure broad participation and feedback from all University constituents, we will engage in a comprehensive University-wide discussion of the Report and Recommendations. Specifically:

The Report will be sent to the Faculty Senate Executive Committee this summer for that group to determine how they wish to engage the Faculty Senate in a discussion and in providing feedback to the administration and Task Force.  We hope to engage in discussions of the Report and Recommendations throughout the fall 2013 term. 

In addition, I have asked Associate Provost Schrader to lead the campus–wide discussion forums throughout the fall 2013 term.  Discussions will be held with the Student Government Association, the Directors’ Council, and Enrollment Management, Academic Development and Student Development Teams.  If additional groups need to be added, we will do so.

Similar to the strategy our community used so successfully during the preparation of the University’s 2012-2022 Strategic Plan, a website — Blue Ribbon Task Force on Academic Advisement Report and Recommendations: Call for Comments — will be established this summer. The site will include the full Report and Recommendations and provide a framework for providing feedback and commentary. Feedback and minutes from discussion forums will also be posted to the site as will additional information about how to view a new proposed advising software, Degree Works.

I hope you will participate in this important discussion as we try to improve academic advising at William Paterson University. Again, let me thank the Blue Ribbon Task Force for its work and for the task ahead. We will reissue this email at the start of the fall 2013 term so that all individuals may see the notice again.


Kathleen Waldron


William Paterson University
300 Pompton Road, Wayne, New Jersey 07470     973-720-2222     president@wpunj.edu