Arts & Sciences re-envisions student services with new ideas, positions

By: Kathy Hovis,  A&S Communications
September 18, 2017

With a new senior associate dean for undergraduate education and seven new staff members, the offices of admissions, advising and career development within the College of Arts & Sciences are piloting new programs and assessing student needs as they roll out a new model for student services within the college.

“There are lots of ideas we are actively thinking about to improve the student experience and we are seeking input from students, faculty, alumni and staff,” said Rachel Bean, professor of astronomy, who began her new role as senior associate dean of undergraduate education for the College of Arts & Sciences on July 1.

Within the last 18 months, the college has added directors of admissions, advising and career development and hired seven new staff members for those offices, which are under Bean’s leadership. The moves are part of a restructuring of the college’s admissions and advising offices to better serve the needs of current and future students.

“One of the challenges that we face in Arts & Sciences is that we are so very broad that it’s hard to give a simple and clear vision of what it means to be an Arts & Sciences student,” Bean said. “The reality is that it’s an amazing opportunity to be able to come into this college and have so many doors you can open, but having that many doors can also be daunting for students. Which ones do I open? How do I open them? Our job is to help students navigate that.”

Some of the new initiatives and top priorities for the offices are:

  • Increasing connections between faculty and their advisees. “We know from our faculty and our students that our pre-major advising is not what it could be,” Bean said. The offices are piloting a new advising program this fall for 60 first-year students, which pairs them in groups of 10 with a faculty member for weekly meetings, where they focus on topics such as time management, the value of the liberal arts curriculum opportunities and navigating Cornell. Other ideas for improving faculty-student connections are also in the works, Bean said.
  • A new focus in the admissions office on reaching out to students who might not have considered Cornell in the past. Zela Brotherton ’04, a new staff member in that office, will focus on diversity and inclusion efforts.
  • Finding ways to connect prospective students to faculty during the admissions season. This can be particularly useful for departments and programs that would be unfamiliar to most high school students, such as classics or Near Eastern studies, Bean said.
  • Encouraging students to meet early on with staff in the college career development office and disseminating new data about career prospects for students with majors outside the most common areas of biological sciences, computer science, economics and government. 
  • Simplifying paperwork for students and faculty by making more forms available online and making information about policies and processes more easily accessible.
  • Exploring ways to improve the course catalog to help students find courses that would appeal to them based on their interests and other classes they enjoyed.
  • Continuing to encourage students to come to their advising dean. “Your advising dean can help you with any problem, big or small, and advocate on your behalf,” Bean said.

“Our plan is to make a number of meaningful changes, both small and large, starting this semester to address the challenges that, in particular, Arts & Sciences students face,” she said.

Dean Gretchen Ritter has scheduled an Arts & Sciences Dean’s Forum, “New Directions in Undergraduate Admissions & Advising,” for noon-1:30 p.m., Oct. 2, in 132 Goldwin Smith Hall (H.E. Cornell Auditorium.) Panelists will include Bean, John Morganelli, director of admissions; Bonnie Comella, director of advising and Jen MacLaughlin, director of career development

New staff members are:

Admissions


Zela E. Brotherton received her bachelor’s in human development from Cornell’s College of Human Ecology and her law degree from Syracuse University’s College of Law. After working as an attorney in public service, Brotherton joined the admissions staff this summer and will focus on diversity and inclusion efforts.


Devon Jones earned both her bachelor’s in clinical/counseling psychology and her master’s in student affairs in higher education from Kutztown University. She has returned to the region after spending four years in Virginia.

Advising


Jayla Greene earned her bachelor’s in psychology from SUNY Cortland and her master’s in higher education from Syracuse University. As a graduate assistant, she worked at the Days-Massalo Center for diversity and inclusion at Hamilton College.


Carlo Lindo is a Babson College graduate and joined Cornell in January 2016.  In addition to being an academic advisor in the College of Arts & Sciences, he is the Posse Program Manager working with Posse Scholars from Chicago, Ill.


Naya Sou received her bachelor’s in geology from Rutgers University and her master’s in teaching from Pace University. She recently relocated to Ithaca from Virginia, where she served as the assistant director of academic advising and enrollment management for the School of Neuroscience at Virginia Tech.


Paul Sulzer holds a bachelor’s in music from Temple University and a master’s in counseling from the University of Delaware. He comes to Cornell from the University of Delaware, where he served as undergraduate academic coordinator for the College of Arts & Sciences.

Career Development


Autumn Moser earned a bachelor’s in psychology from Penn State University and a master’s in student affairs from Kutztown University, where she worked in the Career Development Center as a graduate assistant.

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