Students and faculty form advising task force

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Julia Sand/Winonan

Student Senate President Alexandra Griffin and Academic Affairs Chairperson Sam Schurman are leading a task force to find ways Winona State University can improve Advising Services.

Griffin said this Friday will mark the first meeting between six students and four faculty members representing colleges at Winona State to talk about the task force.

Griffin planned to start the project earlier in the year, but when staffing faculty seemed to be a higher priority, the task force got a slower start than hoped for.

Griffin said that when she got elected president of the Student Senate, one of her initial ideas was to improve graduation rates. When she looked more into it, the correlation between good academic advising and students’ graduation in 4-5 years was evident.

Griffin brought the idea to Schurman. Together they are looking at what is currently available, challenges and what can be improved on.

“We basically want to fix weak areas in advising,” Schurman said.

Griffin said the task force plans to use surveys and anecdotes from students to more clearly define what needs improvement. As of now, the task force has an open slate, Griffin said.

However, some areas of improvement are already clear to the task force.

Schurman explained that often students’ majors and minors include multiple departments, but students are assigned an adviser who is knowledgeable in only one department, which can negatively affect students.

Helping faculty read degree audit reports that involve more than one department and improving program mapping are high priorities for improvement.

Many students expressed their concern about advising at President Olson’s open forum, Hopes and Dreams, earlier this year, Griffin said.

Megan Huizel, an advertising major graduating in 2014, expressed her concern over the Facebook page.

Huizel said that while she kept track of all of her requirements through the course catalog, as was recommended to her, it wasn’t until fall 2012 that she realized she had to take an additional 12 credits than she expected.

She found this kind of problem widespread among students and wished her adviser had directed her.

Elissa Alzate, appointed liaison between faculty and staff, agreed that right now this project is in its very first steps. Alzate said faculty members’ job right now is to listen.

Alzate said faculty understand that there are areas students have complaints about, and a solution to these issues must be both beneficial to students and acceptable according to faculty requirements.

Students like Huizel who wish to voice their concern regarding advising are encouraged to “like” and provide insight on the Facebook Page (Winona State Student Senate).

Students can also email Griffin or Schurman at [email protected] or [email protected]

Students can also go the Student Senate website, www.winona.edu/studentsenate, and click the link “Improve WSU.”

Contact Julia at [email protected]