The University Record, December 17, 1996

LSA's Advising Center is focus of improving service to undergraduates, Nurse tells LS&A faculty members

Esrold Nurse, assistant dean for academic advising in LS&A, reports on his efforts to improve service for undergraduate students. Nurse has held the position for one year.

Photo by Bob Kalmbach

By Jared Blank


The LS&A Advising Center is "a focal point of improved service to undergraduate students in LS&A," says assistant dean for student academic affairs Esrold Nurse. The center, which has been fully operational since July 1, is one component of the changes that Nurse is implementing in undergraduate academic advising, he told LS&A faculty members at their December meeting.

Nurse has spent much of his efforts on updating his office's programs for more than 3,000 first-year students, one of three key areas---second-year students and seniors are the other two---that he has been examining since joining the University one year ago. "Advising is a key piece of the puzzle. We miss an opportunity in the first year if we don't meet with students," he says.

"Programs that focus on the first year as the key year will, we hope, give students a firm beginning and a productive latter three years," Nurse says. Beginning with orientation, students are introduced to the myriad possibilities for undergraduate study. Nurse says he hopes that students will then meet with advisers twice during their first year, once during the first few weeks of the term and again before registration. Students should use these meetings to uncover courses that will help them explore their areas of interest.

Nurse says that the Advising Center has begun to analyze its own processes and consider creative ways to improve service to students. The front desk had been an area of concern because Nurse felt that proper training had not been available for staff members who worked in the area. Four new staff members have been hired and are undergoing "extensive training," he says. "We want to make sure they're knowledgable about the College based on their experience and extensive training. We want to say to students, `We are here for you. We want to help with your problems.' "

Nurse says that second-year and senior level students take advantage of advising from their individual programs, but the Advising Center still handles procedural questions concerning graduation. "We want students at all levels to know that we are always available for them," he says.

During drop/add periods, the center has added an adviser to answer quick questions so students with a single, quick question do not have to wait for an appointment to open up. An Internet home page and e-mail address also have been created to provide quick answers to student questions.

In the future, Nurse hopes to implement new training programs for advisers, a greater development of computer technology, and data collection and assessment of LS&A students.

"Our goal," Nurse says, "is to take a student who was good in high school and show them things they wouldn't have dreamed of."