College Advising Center restructures

By CiaraShook

Columbia’s Advising Center has made adjustments in the past few months to help students plan their curriculum and college career through an easier method.

Until recently, all Columbia students, freshmen through seniors, would correspond with two advisers simultaneously. They would meet with their college adviser to discuss core classes and a faculty adviser to discuss their major.

Starting this fall, the College Advising Center will focus more on incoming students and meet with them more frequently than in the past to become better acquainted with the students and to help the students become more familiar with the college.

As students ease into Columbia and select a major, the center will refer them to a faculty adviser in their major, who will oversee the student’s curriculum through graduation.

“Previously, we would advise students based upon their taking the initiative to come and see us,” said Jim Gingras, office manager of the College Advising Center. “We didn’t say, ‘Hey, meet with your adviser.’ We were always open and dealt with students [who] came in on their own. That’s [why] we’re changing; to get the word out and try to make more room and more appointments.”

The center will guide new students and incoming freshmen through their first year at Columbia and advisers will work to establish a closer relationship with students and help them select college courses that would best compliment their major.

“College advising will focus on new students and be much more available to them,” said vice president of Student Affairs Mark Kelly. “Caseloads [will] move from 1,000 to 1 to something more manageable like 250 to 1. The faculty advisers have a smaller load because the sea of new students is no longer part of the responsibility.”

Sophomores start to receive faculty advising in their major department at the beginning of the fall. When junior year comes around and students start to think about internships, faculty advisers will be able to aid them in bridging their college education with their career using their experience as working professionals.

The bigger idea behind this new advising model is for students to take full advantage of everything Columbia offers.

Ideally, after a student finishes their first 15 to 45 college credits and has a better bearing on what they want to do at Columbia, they would be sent to a faculty adviser to focus more on their chosen major.

The faculty adviser will also work with the student to see what electives outside of the department might be conducive to their major, as well as general questions about Liberal Arts and Sciences core


“We want students’ experience at Columbia to be more effective and enriched by this model,” said Doreen Bartoni, dean of the School of Media Arts. “These assistant deans that we now have will be helping to educate our faculty in terms of advising and to provide opportunities for the faculty to be fully aware of what our enriched curriculum is.”

An assistant dean has been placed into each school at Columbia to help organize the faculty advisers. Keri Walters will be the assistant dean of faculty advising for the School of Fine and Performing Arts, Keith Cleveland is the assistant dean of faculty advising for the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Patti Mackenzie has recently been hired as the assistant dean of faculty advising for the School of Media Arts.

While the change will take approximately three years to fully develop, continuing students are encouraged to visit their college adviser as well as their faculty adviser, like in past years, throughout their time at Columbia.

The College Advising Center will be geared toward freshmen, but sophomores, juniors and seniors will always be able to discuss their curriculum with the center.

“We’re still going to be a resource for our upperclassmen,” Gingras said. “We’re not going to turn anybody away.”