Sally Neal, director of Ithaca College’s new Academic Advising Center, began working at the college Feb. 4. A graduate of the University of Connecticut, Neal also oversees Academic Enrichment Services, Student Disability Services and the Office of State Grants.
The Academic Advising Center was created as part of the college’s IC 20/20 strategic plan and functions alongside faculty advisers. It is open to students of all majors and years. News Editor Noreyana Fernando spoke to Neal about student responses to the center and its future projects.
Noreyana Fernando: Describe the Academic Advising Center and its services.
Sally Neal: There are five professional academic advisers in this office. Each one is a liaison with a particular school on campus, so they are charged with being both a specialist and a generalist. For instance, Kerry Spitze is our liaison with the [Roy H.] Park School of Communications, so she works directly with the associate and assistant deans of the Park School … But her job, and all of [the advisers’] jobs, is also to know and understand the degree and graduation requirements for every major in every school in all catalog years, so any student that walks into this office can find help from any one of the advisers. We have a drop-in policy as well as scheduled appointments. This really comes into play as a benefit for the student when a student is thinking about double majoring, or majoring with minor or internal transfer.
NF: How has the response been during the first week?
SN: Between Aug. 26 and Aug. 30, we had 171 students come to see us — 67 were scheduled, 97 were drop-ins. During the Aug. 26 and Aug. 27 Open House in itself, there were 104 students.
NF: How do you feel about these numbers?
SN: In the first week, I think that the advisers have done a very good job of not only being available for students, but students are again finding us, and that is a good thing. That is our whole purpose, to be here and meet with students, so I am very happy with our first week. We hope to see those numbers increase as students learn more about the availability of the advisers here.
NF: How much preparation does an advisee need before visiting the center?
SN: There doesn’t need to be a whole lot of preparation to come in to see us. We will see any student about anything, even if it’s just like, ‘I don’t know where to go or who to ask’ about any particular thing on campus. We will try to connect them with the right people … There are so many resources. IC is so good with student support. But if you don’t know that support exists, then it is hard for you to find it. We can help you navigate the campus in that way.
NF: What obstacles do you see in the future?
SN: The primary obstacle right now is that we are new, and we hope to get the word out and let all students of all years know that we are available for them. We are a student-centered office. The decisions that we make in here for how we do things are based on what is going to be best for student success.
NF: Do you have any upcoming projects?
SN: On Sept. 16, we will be part of launching a 20-second, four-question check-in survey. It will go out via email to all first-year students and new transfers. It’s basically to say, ‘How are you doing, and is there anything we can help you with?’ just to let them know that we are here. The next thing is on Nov. 6, which will be the first major fair that Ithaca College has had in over a decade. We are partnering with Career Services and the exploratory program.