CLAS workshop to help advisers

GVL / Eric Coulter
CLAS faculty discussing a sabbatical forum recently in Padnos.

GVL / Eric Coulter CLAS faculty discussing a sabbatical forum recently in Padnos.

Kara Haight

The Grand Valley State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will host a workshop for its faculty to explore the ideas behind student advising. The workshop, titled ‘Out of the Box: Seeking Student Retention and a Path to Faculty Equity,’ will examine the important topics and issues that CLAS faculty advisers face.

The topics covered in the workshop, “are not directly related to students,” said Colleen Lewis, Faculty Council chair. “They’re faculty issues.”

Attendants will discuss student retention and faculty equity as well as advising.

“Out-of-the-Box workshops are for faculty to participate in addressing issues related to their work or in faculty governance matters,” said Monica Johnstone, director of CLAS Communications and Advancement.

The workshop will focus on asking and answering four questions during the program, mostly about faculty advising. The role of faculty advising, coordinating faculty and professional advising, achieving faculty equality in advising, and advising in the faculty workload will all be discussed by the attending staff and faculty, Lewis said.

Even though the topic of advising is on the agenda for the workshop, the event won’t be centered around that point. “It’s not how to be a better adviser,” Lewis said, adding that it’s about rethinking advising in CLAS and what that means.

Faculty and staff in CLAS aren’t responsible for all student advising; they partner with the CLAS Academic Advising Center.

“We have a shared model of academic advising,” said Betty Schaner, director of the advising center. “Each student is assigned a faculty adviser for their declared major and the center serves as an additional resource.

Schaner said students usually come to the Academic Advising Center for questions about general education, academic policy and course requirements.

“We also work with students who are switching from one major to another and need assistance with that and provide in-depth information on the requirements for admission to many professional programs,” Schaner said.

While students can always see an adviser from the center for basic questions, faculty advisers are professionals in their area of study and can go more in-depth with a student’s needs.

“(Faculty advisers) can provide students with more of a mentoring relationship,” Schaner said, “(They can) help with research opportunities, internships, (and) information on graduate and professional study.”

Even though the professional advisers in the Academic Advising Center and faculty advisers in CLAS usually help students in different areas, the two departments still work closely with each other. Communication and the cooperative relationship between the Advising Center and CLAS is one of the most important aspects, Schaner said.

“The lines between what faculty and professional advisers do may be blurry sometimes, but we all work together to make sure students receive timely and accurate information,” Schaner said.

The workshop, which is for faculty and staff only, will be hosted by the CLAS Faculty Council and sponsored by the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

A session of ‘Out of the Box’ will take place on Oct. 25, Oct. 31 and Nov. 5. More information can be found at

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