Provost's PostJanuary 19, 2017

Centralizing Advising at NMSU

provost-dan-howardAs most of you are aware, NMSU is in the process of implementing a predictive analytics system, CRM Advise, designed to enhance student success by updating student profiles on a daily basis and providing alerts when students show signs of distress.

Signs of distress include behaviors such as not attending class, performing poorly in class, not logging into Canvas, signing up for a class that is not part of their degree plan, struggling to pay university bills, etc. 

This system will succeed only if there is a group of advisors who are well-trained in the use of the system and are poised to respond quickly to the alerts.  Moreover, these advisors must be knowledgeable in effective interventions and the complex rules that regulate the university and its students, including those associated with financial aid.  For these and other reasons, including the convenience of a one-stop shop for students, NMSU Las Cruces has begun to plan for centralized undergraduate advising.
 
Some faculty members have expressed concerns that the move toward centralized undergraduate advising will diminish the role of the faculty in mentoring students and in building a strong sense of community within departments and colleges.  I want to assure all of you that centralized advising is not intended to remove faculty members from the critical role they play in mentoring students and in providing students with a strong sense of community.  Indeed, freed from focusing on class scheduling and navigating rules and regulations with students, faculty members should have more time to become genuinely acquainted with students and to provide better career (and other) guidance based on the aspirations of students. 

Moreover, I do not believe that it is in the best interests of our faculty to spend time (that could be spent on scholarship and teaching) learning how to operate the CRM Advise system, monitoring students on a continuous basis, and intervening with students when alerts are generated by the system.  I would leave these activities to well-trained advisors. 
 
However, I will expect advisors to inform faculty members when the mentees of the faculty members are showing signs of distress, so that faculty members continue to be well-informed about their students.  In many cases, the faculty member and the advisor will work together to help a student who is struggling.
 
It is important to note that we are at the initial stages of planning for centralized advising at NMSU and there is much yet to be fleshed out.  I am happy to meet with the faculty, advisors, and staff of colleges to discuss our plans, listen to concerns, and work to ensure that centralized advising does not impede effective retention practices that have been implemented within colleges.
 
With best wishes for a good Spring 2017 Semester,

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