Four new deans join undergrad. advisors
Editor's Note: This is the first installment in a three-part series chronicling recent changes to the College's advising structure.
The Dean of the College's Office centralized advising services to a new Baker-Berry Library location and created four additional undergraduate dean positions this summer in an effort to "upgrade" the College's academic advising system, Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson said in an interview with The Dartmouth Editorial Board. The recent changes are part of an ongoing effort to reconfigure the advising system, but such efforts do not constitute an "overhaul" of the current structure, she emphasized.
The Undergraduate Deans Office, which was previously located in Parkhurst Hall, transitioned to their current location in Baker-Berry Library over Summer term to create a "one-stop shopping configuration," Johnson said.
"The feedback that I've gotten from [Associate Dean of the College for Student Academic Support Services Inge-Lise] Ameer is that feedback from students has been generally positive regarding the move," she said.
These changes follow announcements made by College President Jim Yong Kim in May 2010 that the College would implement a new student advising structure beginning Fall 2011. The revamped advising structure would be modeled after a hospital triage system centralizing all relevant offices in one location where students could have their advising needs diagnosed, he said. In November 2010, Kim and then-acting Dean of the College Sylvia Spears reaffirmed the College's intentions to centralize resources from various campus centers, such as the Office of Pluralism and Leadership and Career Services.
Johnson, the permanent dean who replaced Spears in July 2011, said the current initiatives are part of the larger process of entirely relocating academic advising to one on-campus location. Although Johnson noted Baker-Berry's convenient location, she said it is still unknown where one large advising office could be located. Johnson said she hopes that a large centralization process could start "within a year."
The Dean of the College's Office created positions for four new assistant deans of undergraduate students, Johnson said. A fifth assistant dean was also hired to fill a vacancy in the office, according to Justin Anderson, director of media relations for the College.
"We have limited resources and so right now we've put the resources that are available where I think they're the most important and that is in the staffing to increase access," she said.
The newly-appointed deans, Kristi Clemens, Paul Buckley, June Chu, Natalie Hoyt and Brian Reed, all assumed their roles within the last six months, Hoyt said in an interview with The Dartmouth.
The primary motivation behind expanding the Undergraduate Deans Office staff was to reduce advisors' workloads in order to increase student access to their individual advisors, according to Johnson.
"Advising is very labor intensive," Johnson said. "It is something that requires facetime, as you all call it, so reducing the caseload in ways that increase that access and allow for more facetime is the reason for adding the positions."
With the additional hires, the Undergraduate Deans Office now includes nine assistant deans of undergraduate students as well as one senior assistant dean, according to the Dean of the College's website.
The Dean of the College's Office will study and evaluate the impact of the new hires in the Undergraduate Deans Office before further changes and developments are made to the advising system, according to Johnson.
"We want to be mindful of resources and we want to make sure we're using resources both efficiently and strategically in line with our strategic objectives," she said. "So it's not about a proliferation of deans, it's about making the best use of our resources and targeting them in ways that make the most sense for students and the division."
The four new dean positions are funded by allocations that have been "earmarked for investment" in the Dean of the College's Office. The cost of moving the advising offices to Baker-Berry were minimal, Johnson said.
In its new location, the Undergraduate Deans Office also hosts extended open hours on Tuesdays and Wednesdays until 8 p.m., in addition to normal daily open hours from 1 to 4 p.m., according to Hoyt.
"We are trying to provide more opportunities for more interaction with the increase in the number of deans," Hoyt said.
The number of Undergraduate Deans Office Student Consultants seniors who act as informal peer advisors to other undergraduate students was increased from nine to 20 this term, Dean of Undergraduate Students Deborah Tyson said in a previous interview with The Dartmouth.
"We strongly believe in work knowledge, in peer influence," Tyson said. "We want to reaffirm positive peer influence, and we find that students will take that advice. We wanted there to be more interconnection with more peer advising."
The increased number of student consultants will allow students to "communicate with a diverse group of people, people with different majors and different backgrounds," Undergraduate Deans Office Student Consultant Jihan Ryu '12 said in a previous interview with The Dartmouth.
Johnson said she is investigating possible improvements to Student Accessibility Services and the Academic Skills Center. A new assistant director was also hired this term, Johnson said. Director of the Academic Skills Center and writing professor Carl Thum and Tutor Clearinghouse and study group program coordinator Holly Potter have been working with Johnson to evaluate the Academic Skills Center, and will plan ways to increase student access to the center's resources, Johnson said.
The Dean of the College's Office will continue to attempt to "secure funding through some external source" for additional changes in advising, Johnson said.
Although changes to the advising structure were never formally announced to campus, Johnson said deans "should probably consider" publicizing the advising structure's new services in the future.
"I know the deans have done a lot of outreach," Johnson said. "They've worked on a newsletter that's gone out to students so there has been some outreach."
Staff writers Clare Coffey and Sharla Grass contributed reporting.