Advising Students

Advising Students across Specializations

We are a department of World Languages with majors in 7 languages. As to be expected, students are not distributed evenly across the different majors, and student:faculty ratios vary greatly. Our majors used to be advised by a professional advisor with subject expertise, but advising of our campus is switching to a generalist model, which means that department faculty will need to pick up the advising related to the major. We will not receive any money to ease the transition, so cannot hire a dedicated person to advise, or offer part time faculty a stipend to help advise. If we assign students only to faculty in their language, it will create great workload inequity for the Spanish faculty, who will have as much as 10 times more advisees per faculty member than some in other languages. I could offer course release to Spanish faculty, but our full time Spanish faculty teach only upper division courses for our majors and MA students, and those classes are full. Students would then not be able to take the courses they need to graduate in timely fashion. I can assign faculty in lower enrolled languages to advise Spanish majors, but is it fair to Spanish majors that they have advisors from faculty in Chinese or Persian, while every other group of majors has an advisor in their area? I know that no good solution exists. I am just looking for something that causes the least harm to both students and faculty. Any suggestions?

Read More

What Is Reasonable Accommodation?

I’m running into a problem with our disabilities services office, which on our campus reviews and manages student requests for accommodations such as extra time, alternative exam formats, and the like. In the opinion of some of our faculty, this office regularly moves from its management role to a more charged advocacy role that at times has become almost adversarial, especially in terms of pushing what might the boundaries of a “reasonable accommodation.” As chair I’m caught in the middle of this. I occasionally get informed by the office that some faculty are not being especially helpful, with the implication that I should intervene or pressure them. Similarly, faculty seek my support for the limits they believe they need to put on the office’s requests, which can include telling the office to respect the faculty member’s decisions. I’m sympathetic with both parties–how do I manage these sort of situations effectively?

Read More