Advising Task Force Report Proposes Changes to Student Support and Advising Systems


Stefano Ausenda, Contributing Editor

According to Pace University Provost Vanya Quinones, Ph.D., Pace has always been an institution that cares about its students and ensuring that they are successful once they graduate. However, university administration, faculty, and staff felt the need to increase their effectiveness at providing ample academic and advising support for students during their tenure at Pace.

This need to increase effectiveness led to the administration wanting to create a more centralized student advising and academic support system.

“[Administration] is really passionate about ensuring that students have this network of [academic] support, but we wanted to get the [Pace] community, the faculty and staff, to come up with an idea,” Quinones said. Thus, a new task force was created during the last academic year to help address this issue.

The task force comprised of fifteen people; advisors and professors, and students. The advisors and faculty were selcted by Quinones, and the students on the task force were chosen based on recommendations from the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs.

“Our faculty selection was based on the impact of  retention and student success within their department, that is, how effective they were in advising students,” Quinones said. “ And we just chose some of the head advisors from Dyson, Lubin, and the other schools [to be on the task force].”

The force worked for seven to eight months straight, analyzing data and interviewing students; and around June 2019, a finalized report based on their observations was completed and given to Quinones.

After receiving the report, Quinones and her office  met with the heads of the task force to discuss and analyze some of the budget implications that implementing the report into the University might be, and during this semester, they had met with several faculty committees to present the report’s findings and hear feedback and concerns. The last major one of those meetings was earlier this week.

The University is in the process of creating a new position, a head advisor for the entire school, who will help implement the new advising system. Quinones’ goal is to have a job description for the new head position ready and posted by December and to have the position filled by January, so that the implementation process for the new systems can begin next semester, and hopefully be completed by fall 2020.

There were problems with the current advising system that the task force identified in their report. According to Quinones, one was the fact that students in different schools have different levels of advising and academic support, and another problem was that the current advising model is less proactive and more reactive.

“[Under the current system] the student comes to their advisor only when there is an emergency,” she said. “Having a proactive model means that advisors will reach out to the students to help them properly, not only when they have an emergency, to ensure that they have a better track in terms of success.”

According to her, both of these problems and many will be eliminated once the new system is implemented. Also student advising and academic support will become more centralized, so that, unlike now, students will only need to go to one place for any academic support.

“One thing that [president Krislov] and I hate is the ‘Pace runaround,’ like when students are going from one place to the other,” she said. “So what we want to do is simplify student life and ensure that they know where the support is.”

Quinones added that the members of the task force were very proud of what they accomplished, and that she is proud of them as well.

“I think that the process worked because it was a combination of academic personnel, students, and staff, and overall, the faculty have been very receptive [to the proposed changes],” she said.