Effective Jan. 1, 2020, the Office of Undergraduate Education (OUE) implemented several organizational changes in support of the Academic Advising Task Force recommendations that were approved by Provost Rafael Bras in 2018. One of these is the establishment of a new unit for Undergraduate Academic Advising and Transition that will be located in the Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons, directed by Dr. Beth Spencer, who in this capacity will report directly to the vice provost for undergraduate education, Dr. Colin Potts.
Undergraduate Advising and Transition will bring together programs and services, including exploratory advising, academic coaching, academic intervention programs and services for students who are experiencing academic difficulty (such as GT2100), and other student success programs and workshops. It will also include our first year and transfer-year transition courses, GT1000 and GT2000 as well as Project One. In addition, this unit will coordinate learning support, campus-wide assessment of advising, and advisor training and professional development.
“Georgia Tech’s advising structure is currently very decentralized, and we have many talented and passionate professionals who work in advising roles in our colleges and schools,” said Colin Potts, vice provost for Undergraduate Education. “They understand their own students, their needs, and their curricula better than any centralized advising unit can, and their roles within their academic units are vital. It was clear from the Task Force’s work, though, that the lack of a common model of advising has resulted in inconsistent advising experiences for our undergraduate students, and the occasional dropping of coordination between academic units when students have minors or change majors. What’s more, advising interacts with the Registrar’s Office, Financial Aid, and other parts of Georgia Tech in ways that affect student wellbeing and timely degree completion. This unit will support the work that our academic advisors do and provide additional centralized programs and services that serve all students.”
Another priority for the unit is to become more effective by improving and expanding the use of technology and analytics. Advisors need access to data that is more comprehensive, customizable, and user-friendly. To accomplish this, the Institute approved funding for a new advising CRM system as well as new positions dedicated to educational/curricular data analytics and supporting legacy technology (GradesFirst, GT Reports, training, etc.).
With the establishment of this new unit, OUE also implemented some additional organizational changes that were also made effective January 1, 2020. Contingent on approval in the new critical hiring justification process, a new director will be hired to oversee all of our tutoring and academic support programs, including PLUS and Tech Prep. This will replace the former Center for Academic Success (CAS). Dr. Chris Reaves will lead a new area titled “Academic Engagement Programs” that will include Living Learning Communities, Undergraduate Research, Student Innovation (including the InVenture Prize) and Summer Session Initiatives (including the iGniTe program). Finally, Pre-Graduate and Pre-Professional Advising (PGPP), led by Dr. Shannon Dobranski, is now a separate unit that will remain operationally embedded with the Center for Career Discovery and Development (C2D2) but no longer be part of this center. Pre-teaching advising has now been moved to CEISMC, and pre-law advising was moved to the School of Public Policy in July 2019. Within PGPP, we are providing additional resources for pre-health advising, pre-graduate advising, and prestigious fellowships advising.
“After OUE’s five-year external review was completed in fall 2018, we initiated a careful examination of our staff and stakeholder’s feedback and the reviewers’ recommendations as well as USG priorities such as Complete College Georgia and Momentum Year,” said Dr. Steven P. Girardot, associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education. “These helped inform how we could better organize our programs and services to support student success. I am excited about these changes and look forward to working with vice provost Potts, our OUE leadership team, and our staff to move them forward.”
Looking ahead, OUE is finalizing an extensive organizational review of the Center for Career Discovery and Development (C2D2). Potential reorganization and rebranding plans will be announced later this spring.