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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Columbian College to double number of advisers, make ‘dramatic’ changes to advising

This post was written by Senior Staff Writer Matt Rist.

In an effort to improve its widely criticized academic advising system, the University will double the undergraduate advising staff in the Columbian College, create an advising committee with representation from all undergraduate schools and speed up the implementation of a degree auditing system.

The changes will cost a total of $500,000, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Don Lehman said Friday. Funds saved from the work of the Innovation Task Force will pay for nine new professional staff members in the Columbian advising office, which Lehman said he hopes will result in major improvements to academic advising.

“I think the sheer numbers are going to help and the advising committee will give us an opportunity to educate people as to what advising is all about,” Lehman said. “Hopefully the combination of our efforts in this direction will make students realize that advising is a combined effort.”

Lehman said a new advisory committee made up of one student and one professor from each of the University’s five undergraduate schools will meet next week to gather recommendations for additional changes in an effort to reach out to students to improve the advising system.  The committee will meet once a month, Lehman said.

CCAS Dean Peg Barratt said the additional staff will allow her office to better respond to the needs of students.

“Our advising office is always listening to students,” Barratt said. “We’ve always been constrained by staffing issues, but now those constraints will be lifted.”

The University will also speed up the implementation of its degree audit system to as soon as fall 2011, which Lehman said could cost approximately $200,000 more than initial estimates and will require major changes to course numbering.

“Speeding up the degree audit system is going to cost more money,” Lehman said. “We need more people, which means an additional cost to the University.

Lehman said students and deans have lobbied for changes for a number of years, but that his office has been unable to allocate the funds necessary until now.

“Now that we have the Innovation Task Force, this is a good example of the kinds of things we’re going to be able to do in the future that we weren’t able to do in the past,” Lehman said.

In an announcement on Friday, the Student Association credited the changes to its efforts lobbying the administration for improvements to the advising system. Lehman said it was a combined effort on his part with input from students and the deans.

“I think it was a combination of discussions with Julie Bindelglass and discussions with other students,” Lehman said. “It’s not something that the deans have ignored, as they have several times requested additional funding for this purpose and when possible I have allocated those funds.”

University President Steven Knapp noted advising will be the first area of the University to benefit from the Innovation Task Force savings in a press release on Friday. Knapp thanked Lehman, Bindelglass and SA Executive Vice President Jason Lifton “for making advising such an important focus of our discussions.”

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