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Proposals ask for improved advising

By Irene Hsiao
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
January 21, 2000
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Two academic advising proposals under consideration - one from the University Professional Advising Council and another from ASUA - could be the answer for students who aren't getting the guidance they need for their educational careers.

The UPAC proposal aims to improve advising through changes in the current system that include instituting an advising hub in the new student union, centralizing advising within each college, and rewarding and increasing trained advisers.

A similar proposal made in collaboration by UPAC presented last spring by ASUA's former Academic Affairs director Kaleen Love calls for increased funding, more advisers and mandated student advising. The plan also requests centralized advising within colleges and training.

The hub, called the Coordinating Office for Student Advising, would serve as a "clearinghouse" for both students and advisers to help all members in the advising process.

"It is a place to provide support and referral to anybody that advises and students on campus," said Uwe Hilgert, one of the three University of Arizona advisers heading UPAC.

The purpose of the hub is to direct students to a specific college, while advisers can get training and links to other faculty and advisers on campus.

The committee has not finalized the specifics of the center and its operations.

"It is underdeveloped as to how it'll be done," Hilgert said

The proposal, which is being reviewed by a sub-committee of the undergraduate council, will also maintain advising in individual colleges and not centralize advising further, he said.

"UPAC is not saying all colleges should be on the same model," he said. "We say diversity has its advantages."

The group that started in 1992 is made of about 50 professional advisors, administrators and faculty members that consult university administration on advising.

Hilgert, the instructional programs coordinator and academic adviser for UA microbiology and veterinary science majors, said most advisors aren't just giving advice but have other duties too.

The organization is also requesting the university hire more competitively - including higher salaries and more relief time for the advisers to attend conferences with other schools to discuss how they could improve advising, he said.

Hilgert said he was unsure the number of UA advisers because there is no clear definition of an academic adviser.

He added that the attitude of students have towards advising needs to change.

"We at UPAC believe that the spirit need to change how academic advising viewed," Hilgert said.

Although the proposal will not solve all the problems, he said advising will be better.

"We'll still have too few advisers with the hub, but at least one step is already in the making," Hilgert said.

There is a strong interest to improving academic advising university wide, he said.

"To get everybody on the right track is most important right now," Hilgert said. "Maybe we can really have some change in the next few years."

The Associated Students proposal is more from a student's perspective which would require students to see an adviser, while the UPAC proposal is geared towards advising across campus, said Bosun Hau, ASUA director of academic affairs.

He said advising has been an issue with the Arizona Board of Regents annual report card.

In each of the past two years, ABOR's report card has said UA student advising satisfaction needs improvement.

Students would have at least four hours of advising per year under the new proposal, Hau said.

"I think if the U of A is committed to advising their students, there must be at least that amount of time spent," he said.

Hau adds that Arizona State University has required advising for their students.

"The way we assess our advising is different than how ASU and (Northern Arizona University) does it," he said. "While things may be OK, they still need to be improved."

Brian Auvine, senior program coordinator for the UA atmospheric sciences department, said the hub is a good idea for students looking for the right adviser.

"I think it would help students," he said. "Right now there is a confusing array of advising on campus."

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