Verbum Ultimum: An Ill-Advised Delay
Last November, College President Jim Yong Kim announced that the College was finally undertaking a much-needed and long-awaited overhaul of the undergraduate student advising system. The new system, which would centralize all advising services in a single physical location, would be fully implemented by Fall 2011, Kim said in a previous interview with The Dartmouth Editorial Board ("College plans new advising system," Nov. 30, 2010).
Fall 2011 has arrived, but the new advising center has not. In an Oct. 13 interview with The Dartmouth, Associate Dean for Student Support Services Inge-Lise Ameer and Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson indicated that although some progress has been made, administrators still lack a definitive timetable for the project. The apparent lack of urgency with which College administrators are treating this vital update is frustrating and unacceptable.
The College's current advising systems have long been considered clunky, disjointed and difficult for students to use. Ameer's proposal to streamline the process by centralizing advising in Baker-Berry Library is encouraging both in that it correctly diagnoses the major problems with the current system and is seemingly suited to correct those flaws. So far, Ameer has overseen the relocation of the undergraduate deans offices to Baker-Berry, extended the deans' office hours, increased the number of Deans Office Student Consultants from nine to 20, and reintroduced the Take a Professor to Lunch program. While these are certainly steps in the right direction, they hardly constitute the promised system overhaul. And although offices such as Career Services, Student Accessibility Services, the Academic Skills Center and the Office of Pluralism and Leadership are holding regular meetings to compare best practices and advising strategies, the College must remember that it is already 11F the time for talk has passed. Every delay in the advising revamp is magnified because many of students' most crucial questions come early in their Dartmouth careers typically in their freshman or sophomore years. The consequences of poor planning in those years can have a lasting impact on a student's academic success, and many past students have suffered from being unable to navigate the advising system. It is regrettable that the College has allowed the Class of 2015 to begin their time here under the current advising system a schedule setback that was never articulated to students and likely could have been avoided had proper planning occured before the administration's advising announcement.
The problems with the advising system are not the esoteric concerns of a small group of students, but rather major issues that adversely affect the academic climate for all students here. We strongly urge the College to commit to implementing the proposed changes more quickly by the end of this academic year at the latest so that the system can finally be running at full strength in time for the Class of 2016. While the administration's desire to amend the advising system is admirable, the promise for a comprehensive, centralized structure is currently empty words.