UToday Article – Jan 27

Fostering the Student Experience
UToday Article
January 27, 2012
By Carly Moran

Photo by Riley Brandt

The UCAN Advising Task Force is committed to student and advisor success (from left to right): Heather Smith-Watkins, Barbara McCutcheon, Ellen Schmaltz, Lesley Gerein, Susan Woods and Adrien Caddick.

Advisors are an integral part of the university’s culture, and despite their wide variety of specializations, all advisors are connected by a shared desire to help students make the most of their experience.

Recently, a small group of advisors began looking at opportunities to create a network aimed at developing connections and supporting advisor development and training. With the endorsement of Ryan Lee, interim vice-provost (students), the University of Calgary Advisors’ Network (UCAN) was established as a six-month pilot project.

“Creating connections between advisors will make us stronger collectively,” says Adrien Caddick, senior admissions officer, undergraduate admissions and member of the Advising Task Force. “Supporting the development of advisors will ensure students receive the best resources available, leading to greater student engagement and satisfaction.”

The group is planning a formal launch on Feb. 23 – an event targeting all campus advisors. A keynote speaker will be present to talk about motivating staff and connecting to students. Advisors are encouraged to subscribe to UCAN to join the network and receive more information about the launch.

The group already has a number of goals to help guide their activities, which include: creating a formal network of advising professionals, initiating a professional development program, developing an electronic advising hub, and starting an advisor recognition program.

“Enhancing advisor skills increases confidence in making referrals and helps students achieve their education and career goals,” says Lesley Gerein, manager of program advising at the Chancellor Cuthbertson Student Success Centre and member of the Advising Task Force. “Fostering the student experience will help us realize institutional targets for improved retention and graduation rates.”

With no other recognized advisor networks in Canadian universities, the group hopes to position the University of Calgary as a model for professional advising in Canada. Long term, they would like to connect the University of Calgary with other advisor groups in Canada and in the United States – where campus advising is a thriving profession.

“There is nothing more satisfying than seeing a student gain confidence in their education and career options after meeting with an advisor,” says Caddick. “We’re here to smooth the way for students to realize their potential, and continue successfully along their chosen path.”

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