Letters to the Editor

Letter: Advising dialogue complements curriculum

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

I am writing in response to recent conversations on this campus about the importance of ensuring the strongest possible advising system at Brown. I fully support this dialogue and hope it continues. The ideals of the Brown curriculum have always called for robust advising, and for that we need the best ideas of all our students, faculty and staff.

Under the Plan for Academic Enrichment, Brown made significant efforts to strengthen this important aspect of the undergraduate experience. Since 2007, the number of faculty and staff members involved in first-year advising increased by over 50 percent. The College established new protocols for sophomore advising and revitalized the Randall Advising Program. We developed the Matched Advising Program for Sophomores to enhance conversations between sophomores and upper-class students. We restarted the Faculty Advising Fellows program to increase the engagement of students and faculty outside of class. We created new online tools for advising — Advising Sidekick and Focal Point — to make accurate information available to advisers and advisees and published new materials to support advising in the concentration. We launched CareerLAB and made significant enhancements to career advising. We opened new spaces for advising in J. Walter Wilson, the Third World Center, the Science Center and the Nelson Fitness Center, doubling the number of drop-in hours available to students across the week. And we created Team Enhanced Advising and Mentoring to help advisers learn about the difficult issues affecting many of our students today.

Indeed, it is a point of pride that each year so many faculty members choose to be involved in the advising process, along with hundreds of student leaders who generously give their time in support of their peers. In a recent survey, faculty members at Brown indicated that among the things they value most in their Brown experience is their work with undergraduates. They also indicated that, next to teaching, the activity on which they spend the most time is advising. This level of dedication is the envy of our peer institutions.

I am not suggesting, however, that we should be complacent. A strong advising system must continually grow and change to meet the needs of every new cohort of students. Last year, the Committee on Educational Innovation — in preparing for Brown’s new strategic plan — indicated in its interim report that “the University should not only continue its ongoing work to improve advising, but also develop new measures to promote student responsibility, reflection, and accountability.” I believe Brown’s new strategic plan accepts this premise as a given.

Advising is one of the great challenges and great strengths of the Brown curriculum. I have been honored and proud to work on behalf of our passionate community of faculty and students to support the ideals of our ennobling philosophy of education.

Katherine Bergeron

Dean of the College

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