The admissions and advising staff in the College of Arts & Sciences help students navigate the academic terrain of the university, aiding with academic planning, managing college admissions and orientation, and handling registrar duties. All of these responsibilities have changed dramatically in the last ten years, as a recently completed review and analysis of the Admission and Advising office revealed. In response, the College has announced a reorganization to better serve the needs of current and future students.
To successfully operate in today’s environment, the college is creating two new positions, a Director of Advising and a Director of Admissions, who will oversee these critical functions and report to the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education. Existing staff will report to one or the other director, with the bulk of their responsibilities focused in either admissions or advising. Once these leadership positions are filled, the college plans to conduct a staffing analysis to determine if any additional hires are warranted.
“We have fabulous staff in admissions and advising who provide critical services to our students,” said Gretchen Ritter, the Harold Tanner Dean of Arts & Sciences. “Restructuring admissions and advising functions will enable our advising deans to focus more clearly on academic advising and on ensuring that we are admitting and recruiting a great class each year.”
To better integrate faculty involvement in advising and admissions functions, and to attend to curriculum matters at the university level, the next Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education will be a tenured faculty member. Current Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education David DeVries has announced his retirement, but has agreed to remain through AY 2016-17 to help lead this transition and reorganization.
“The venerable tradition of the liberal arts has been the systolic and diastolic pulse of Cornell since its birth. It has been my great pleasure and honor to have helped our students enter into that tradition.” says DeVries, reflecting on his time in the college. “T. S. Eliot observed, a tradition ‘is modified by the introduction of the new’; our students become a part of the tradition of the liberal arts and doing so modify that tradition as they themselves are transformed. I will spend the coming year doing my best to help guarantee that future generations of students have the opportunity to do that invaluable work of becoming part of and thereby transforming the liberal arts tradition at Cornell.”
Added Ritter, “David has been a valued partner and he will continue to function in a leadership capacity throughout this transition.”
Several changes in the last decade led to the need for this reorganization, according to Dean Ritter. Admissions personnel have been increasingly inundated since the introduction of the online Common App, which has resulted in a massive increase in the number of schools to which students are applying. In the last ten years, applications for the approximately 1,100 spots in the College of Arts & Sciences have climbed to 19,000, more than doubling – and the numbers keep increasing.
At the same time, other Ivy League schools have invested in aggressive recruiting techniques, resulting in a far more competitive field for the recruitment and yield of top applicants.
Students at elite institutions today also require a deeper level of support from advisors, creating a heightened demand on advising staff. Over the next few years the college will work to strengthen its advising structures, particularly in the area of pre-major advising.
“In the near term, our reorganization will enable us to improve the first year experience for new students and to initiate new recruitment and yield efforts,” said Ritter. “We’re building a structure that will be able to sustain increasing demands in admissions and advising while enabling continued interaction and collaboration between these functions. Given the commitment and professionalism of our current admissions and advising staff, I am confident that this reorganization will be a success, and will benefit our students and prospective students going forward.”