MAILED: Aug. 1, 2000
Students at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and throughout the UW System understand the benefits of academic and career advising to help them establish goals, speed the time to degree and reduce costs. Their request for additional staff to provide professional advising at all UW institutions was the basis for the governor's recommendation that the UW System 1999-01 biennial budget include funds to improve career and general advising.
In keeping with the governor's recommendation, $1.95 million and 28.5 positions system wide for academic advising were included in the biennial budget signed into law last fall.
"Career planning and academic advising services have both shown a steady increase in use at UW-Eau Claire," Provost Ronald Satz said. "The latest ACT Student Survey shows that the use of academic advising is up 2.2 percent since the last survey and up 13.5 percent since 1984, an indication that students are more savvy about the importance of academic advising. This new money allows us to further enhance advising services, especially for transfer students, returning adults and single parents."
Dean of Students Ann Lapp said the budget increase came about because students, faculty, the governor and legislators were all on the same page regarding the importance of good advising. "Students lobbied the legislature and helped convince the governor that good advising makes a difference when it comes to student success and saving resources."
Lapp said l.5 advising positions were recently added to the Advising and Testing subunit of the Advising and Career Services Office at UW-Eau Claire, which includes the Adult Opportunity programming.
"These positions will help us enhance advising for all groups of students, assuring more timely appointments, an increased emphasis on career development and smoother transfer between institutions," Lapp said.
Adult Opportunity adviser Rita Webb's position was increased to 80 percent to support the university's priority of providing better access and services for students 25 years and older, effective July 1.
"This position was restored to its former level to support non-traditional students, such as returning adults, veterans or 20-year-olds with children. Full or part-time, admitted or non-admitted students are all included," said Deborah Gough, director of Advising and Testing.
Also on July 1, transfer adviser Katie Ritland's position was increased from 30 to 70 percent to allow more time to work with students with 30 credits or more, including many older students.
"Twenty-five percent of our new entering students are transferring from another institution," Gough said. "This change helps us meet the System's initiative to enable a seamless transfer from the colleges to the universities."
To increase service to undeclared students and increase the career development aspect of advising, veteran faculty members Susan Harrison and Sylvia Steiner were appointed to .40 positions in the Advising Office, effective with the beginning of the academic year.
"We hired experienced faculty for these positions because they have strong connections to departments and other faculty," Lapp said. "Both are well grounded in student services and very knowledgeable about academic requirements."
Steiner, a professor of communication disorders, joined the faculty in 1970 and is the longtime chair of the department. "Quality advising can make a huge difference in retention. It can help students do better academically by helping them to make good choices and sequence their courses. It also can make a big difference in timely graduation rates," Steiner said.
Harrison joined the faculty in 1983. She is an associate professor of computer science and is in her third year as chair of the University Senate. "Advising is much more than selecting courses and scheduling classes," Harrison says. "Academic advisers have the opportunity for one-to-one interactions with students opportunities to show concern not only for the students' specific personal or vocational decisions, but also to help the students better understand themselves and to help the students learn to use the various institutional resources to meet their educational needs."
Harrison says she is in a unique position as a faculty member, adviser and University Senate chair to help enhance communication among the faculty, the students and the advising office and "to further promote and enhance the concept of student-centered advising on the campus."
UW-Eau Claire's Academic Advising and Career Services offices are housed together on the second floor of Schofield Hall. Gough says their proximity to each other results in better integration between the two offices and better services for students.
"We have one of the best advising programs in the UW System," Gough said. "A big reason is the strong connection between academic and career advising. By having the expertise in one place, we can provide more services to students. As academic advisers we know more about career services than most. For example, I always take a student into our career resources area by their second appointment and get them involved in accessing our many information sources."
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: Aug. 1, 2000