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  February 24, 2003

Group Seeks To Improve Advising
By Richard Veilleux

Opportunities to obtain academic advising at UConn are many - from groups such as ACES, CAP, CPIA, and FYE; to websites and e-mail; to individual faculty advisors, professional advisors, graduate assistants, and peer advisors.

But, says Fred Maryanski, vice chancellor for academic administration, advising could be better. And a committee is working to do just that.

"The University is committed to providing the best educational experience possible to our students, and advising is a critical component of that experience," Maryanski says.

"Our advising is very good," he adds, citing the University's 87 percent freshman retention rate and 68 percent graduation rate - 19th best among public universities in the nation. "But we'd like it to be better. We're trying to make it more efficient and more effective - to clarify who's responsible for what.

The University Advising Council, formed four years ago, has discussed ways to improve advising with several groups, and Maryanski plans to visit many more, including the Senate Executive Committee, the Dean's Council, the Undergraduate Student Government, and department heads.

On February 25, more than 6,200 students will be brought into the picture when students in all 11 a.m. classes will be surveyed to ascertain their views. The 15- to 20-minute surveys include the four-page ACT Survey of Academic Advising, which is administered to schools and colleges across the country, and an additional two-page questionnaire with UConn-specific questions, administered by the University's Office of Institutional Research. Results from the surveys will be included in a final report that Maryanski hopes to complete by summer.

"Because we're client-oriented and consumer-based, we have to look at what the students say," says Eva Gorbants, an academic advisor at the Storrs campus since 1986 and a member of the advising committee. "We want to define the different roles, determine our core values and responsibilities. Then we have to discuss how to implement the new ideas and new solutions," she says.

"I think it's important that we implement periodic assessments of our advising," Gorbants adds.

Maryanski says the advising model varies from department to department, and among schools and colleges. "But we are all seeking to find the best mechanism to serve the students," he says.

The advising council expects to complete its work by the end of the spring semester.

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