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Advising Academy Program, 2011

Pease register for the Academy at your earliest convenience:


Friday, October 21 (10AM-4PM), Rackham Assembly Hall and East and West Conference Rooms

AM Panel: Visions of Community – 


PM Breakout Sessions:

  • Student Voice:
    Student participation in departmental processes/decision-making, such as undergraduate program or curriculum committees and departmental outreach to students – Acrisio Pires, Linguistics
  • Curricular/Co-curricular:
    Undergraduate programs that connect specific departments/disciplines with study abroad, service learning, etc. (e.g., NELP, UM Biological Station, Camp Davis) and other curriculum based models (e.g., using gateway courses to introduce students to the departmental community, capstone projects)
  • Faculty-Student Interaction: 
    Programs and events that provide undergraduates opportunities to meet and interact with faculty from their concentration, outside of regular classroom settings (e.g., Pizza with Profs, brown bag sessions)
  • Milestones:
    Programming and events built around the decisive transitions that structure the undergraduate experience (e.g., concentration orientations, departmental commencement programs, etc.)


This year’s Advising Academy focused on building community (intellectual and otherwise) in undergraduate programs.  The morning panel featured Stephen DeBacker from Mathematics, Brian Porter-Szücs from History, Melissa Eljamal from Organizational Studies and Jaime Langdon and Kimberly Smith from the Program in the Environment.  Each of the panelists presented a variety of ways in which their departments and programs attempt to build community, their motivations for this endeavor, as well as the challenges to and benefits of success in this regard.  (Presentations and related documents linked below.)

  • Stephen talked about the history of community in Math and their standard means of achieving this; engaging students in the life of the department generally; and how advising is structured and operates.  
  • Brian presented History’s new three-tiered advising model, recent curricular changes (both in terms of requirements and course offerings) and the motivations for these changes.  
  • Melissa Eljamal highlighted Org Stds responses to the challenges to building community in a highly interdisciplinary program through curricular, advising, and an array of contexts for student (including alumni) engagement.  
  • And Jaime and Kim focused on a similar range of opportunities for PitE students, including but not limited to field experiences, peer advising, social and milestone events, and communications media.

In the afternoon breakout sessions, each led by a brief presentation and co-facilitated by a departmental representative, the following examples and best practices emerged:

Student Voice (Acrisio PiresLinguistics):
  • Involve students in UG committees.
  • Utilize “Joiners” to develop programs and bring in other students (see also Tina Rosenberg’s Join the Club).
  • Facilitate peer-to-peer interaction.  Examples:
    • Peer Advisors/Mentors
    • Tutors
    • Student Org events and communication (e.g., blog, FB)
  • Provide opportunities for students to engage in and present research.
  • Survey your students (at graduation but also ongoing).
Milestones (Donna AinsworthWomen’s Studies):
  • Welcome to the Major
  • Milestones in Women’s Studies are designed to:
    • Create a sense of community (e.g., dinners for new majors, major-specific graduation ceremonies).
    • Establish a shared discourse about the discipline (e.g., capstone classes that create cohorts).
  • Beyond
    • Use email contact to maintain a running list of jobs held by Women’s Studies graduates.
    • Some graduates are featured on the department’s website.
  • Discussion
    • Departments with smaller numbers of majors emphasized the importance of faculty contact with students as an element in creating milestones.
    • Larger departments discussed milestones formats that accommodate many students, such as orientation for the major programs.
    • The nature of the discipline is an important factor in shaping effective milestones (e.g., differences between humanities and laboratory based sciences, Classical Studies’ meals based on ancient recipes, enactment of the death of Caesar).
Curricular/Co-curricular Opportunities (Katie Richards-SchusterCASC):
  • CASC minor is structured around accommodating students with diverse co-curricular involvement.
    • The core class is a key venue for providing information about opportunities.
    • Smaller classes promote the culture of involvement by allowing time for students to report back from their activities.
  • Student expertise re: being active is incorporated in the curriculum.
    • A student board has a voice in programmatic elements.
    • Newsletter was developed by students.
    • Partners for Change: advanced students are paired with newer students in mentoring relationships.
  • CASC uses MPortfolio as a mechanism for helping students make sense of their co-curricular work.
  • The capstone class is a key instructional element in portfolio creation.
Faculty-Student Interaction (Ashlee WolfeAsian Languages and Cultures):
  • Advocacy by Department Chair is crucial.
  • Enforcement/Encouragement by UG Chair is also helpful.
  • Framing/Communication to faculty of the rationale and benefits is important.
  • Academic concerns
    • Info Sessions
    • Career Workshops
    • Honors Colloquium (presentations of research to faculty)
    • Faculty presentations (aimed at UG audience)
    • Language tables
    • Graduation Awards Reception
  • Purely social events
    • Fall Ice Cream Social
    • Interest Groups
    • Coffee & Cookies
    • Charity Drive/Dinner