The Undergraduate Academic Advising Center

Devyn Forquer

Devyn Forquer


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Located on the third floor and the far west end of the C building is one of the newest additions to campus: The Undergraduate Academic Advising Center.

As many students have expressed confusion or complete apathy about it, there is a lot of information about the center that students should know.

At first, my general quest for information started with a question: why does my advisor keep changing?

Hoping I wasn’t the only one going through these advisor changes, I began speaking with my peers in the Communication program.  As it turns out, we had all been changing advisors each year for the past three years, at least.

With many questions to ask, but no idea who to ask them to, I first spoke with Latonya Holmes, Cohort Advisor and Coordinator for New Student Programs.

Her job as a cohort advisor entails that she is an advisor for freshman and sophomore students who are admitted as general education students.   

She advises them closely for their first three semesters until they pick their major and can transfer to their major advisor, some time during their third term.

After switching to that major advisor, it should not change for the duration of their time spent at the university unless there was a structure change for the program – a change the Communications program recently underwent.

The Communications program went through a structural change where the advisors went from faculty advisors to professional advisors.

Lisa Helm, Director of the Undergraduate Academic Advising Center, said the initial change was because the faculty needed to get back into the classroom.

Lisa Helm
Photo of Lisa Helm
Devyn Forquer

Faculty assignments consisted of both advising and teaching. Advising became more and more of the case load, meaning less teaching – which is why the Communication program was in the works of transitioning to professional advising.

While the Communication program advising has changed, it was not the only program. All of the undergraduate programs have transitioned from any kind of faculty advising to all professional advising.

In fact, the Communication program advising was not even the last program to transition, it was the History program this past August.

The Advising Center is for all undergraduate students and it houses all professional advisors for every undergraduate program.

“The center is here to provide one common place where students can come and get all of the advising they need… professional advisors will provide more information for students and have the ability to answer questions that are cross-disciplinary,” said Helm.

In addition to providing “unified coverage” for all undergraduate students, the office has longer hours in order to assist more students.   

The center is open 8:30 A.M. – 7 P.M. Monday through Thursday, 8:30 A.M. – 5 P.M. Friday, and the Saturday before each term begins for students who may have trouble registering for classes or need to get any last minute issues worked out.

While each student has their assigned advisor, if that advisor happened to be out of the office at the time, a student could walk in and talk to any advisor about any concern or questions they have and schedule a follow-up appointment with their assigned advisor later.

Dr. Deborah Bordelon, Provost and Vice President of Student Affairs, said the transition towards the Advising Center has been in the works for a while.

What was found was a combination of both faculty and professional advisors across all colleges on campus.

After sending out surveys to students about their advising experience, the feedback showed a lack of continuity, not being able to see their advisor on a regular basis, and during the summer, having no contact with a faculty advisor because they were on contract.

Bordelon said about five years ago, a consultant was brought in to see the advising structure, who interviewed faculty and students about their advising experiences, which is where the goal of a central advising location came in to play.

At the time, many students complained about coming in to see their advisor, but no one would be there. This will no longer be the case now that the Advising Center is here.

The process in opening the center was simple because it was all about relocation.

There were already advisors all over campus; they are simply just in one location now.

“This is a step in the right direction, we will no longer have students come to campus and not have anyone to speak with about their education,” said Bordelon.

Her advice for students is to just go to the center and see what it’s all about, ask questions, and get more information.

For any questions regarding the center, reach out to your advisor, Director Lisa Helm, [email protected], or Assistant Director Pamela Stipanich, [email protected]

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