The Campus Center Living Room will be eliminated and Mail Services will move to make room for an expanded Depot, which will include centralized advising offices.
University administration announced in the spring a decision to move academic advising to a centralized location. Kevin Campbell, chief enrollment officer, is directing the change because it will affect student enrollment and satisfaction.
“We think it’s a win-win for everybody,” Campbell said.
The expanded Depot will be constructed at the current location of Mail Services and the Campus Center Living Room. Because the Living Room will be eliminated, Susan Gore, executive assistant to the vice president for Student Life, will help groups who wanted to use the Living Room to find new spaces for events.
Mail Services will move to the Depot’s old location near the Bean and will no longer have individual mailboxes. Instead of checking a mailbox, students will receive an email or text notification when they have a package. They can then go to a kiosk in the mail services office and either swipe their ID card or enter their ID number and a student worker will hand them their package over a large counter.
Although the size of the mail office will decrease, the number of student workers will remain about the same, Campbell said. Students who live on campus will pay a mail services fee included in their housing bill. Students who live off-campus will have the option to purchase mail services.
“This enables them to have their packages stored and secured in a location and they are notified when the package gets here,” Campbell said.
The new advising staff will start working Thursday, July 14. They will begin official advising August 15 in a temporary office in the Graduate Commons on the second floor of the library. During construction of the new mail office, student services in the Depot will temporarily move to the President’s Dining Room located in the Campus Center to the left of the Bean entrance.
When construction on the new mailroom is complete, Mail Services will move and construction on the expanded Depot and advising offices will begin. Campbell said the goal is to complete the construction by mid-October in time for class registration.
A team of faculty and staff visited other universities, including Southern Methodist University, that use a centralized advising system. Campbell said schools that use this system saw higher student satisfaction, graduation rates and rates of students graduating on time. After discussing the idea with current advisors, faculty, staff and some students, Campbell and his team chose to make the Office of Advising part of the Depot so students can get financial aid, academic advising, student IDs and other services in one place.
“We want to provide the best possible service that we can and in a centralized approach we’ll be able to manage that hopefully in a way that we haven’t in the past,” Campbell said.
Half of the centralized advising staff includes new advisors while half includes returning advisors from different departments. The new advisors will handle groups of majors called “major clusters.” Campbell said this would allow students who change majors within their major cluster to keep their advisor. The new system will also create a consistent, uniform experience for all students. Campbell said in the old advising system, advisers ran their systems differently so students who changed majors had to learn new systems.
Lisa Wiggins, academic advisor for the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, will continue to work with the department as a part-time advisor for centralized advising. She said with the new system, advisors will be able to communicate more about how courses are filling and what classes are like.
“It will be a broader system, working a little more closely with Student Life,” Wiggins said. “As an adviser, having a regular interaction with students, I might be able to see some things a faculty member may not see and address the needs of the student a little more thoroughly.”
If a student were to struggle in midterms or if his or her GPA was dropping, Wiggins said she would be able to alert Student Life or Residence Life to give that student more attention.
“It’s a more holistic approach to the student,” Wiggins said.
Wiggins will work part-time, advising about 150 students. Full-time advisors will advise about 300 students each.