Updates on Academic Advising at SJSU

Sent: February 28, 2024

From: Vincent J. Del Casino, Jr., Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Shonda L. Goward, Ed.D., Associate Vice Provost, Undergraduate Advising and Success

Dear Colleagues,

We write to update you on the efforts to advance Undergraduate Advising and Success (UAS) at SJSU. As many of you know, in 2019, SJSU underwent a review from the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA). Since the 2019 NACADA report, SJSU made significant strides in implementation of the recommendations and also established the UAS unit with an inaugural Associate Vice Provost, alongside six managing directors, to lead and direct 10 student success centers. Another review by NACADA, which took place in Fall 2023, notes some of our successes as well as our opportunities for growth. In particular, the 2023 NACADA report notes that SJSU must:

Create a more robust communication structure about institutional investment and change in academic advising while also clarifying the responsibilities of management as well as faculty and staff in the advising enterprise;
Establish a clear set of expectations and “requirements for the job” for all advisors, faculty and staff alike, with clear and measurable responsibilities and metrics;
Create an “advising syllabus” that is the instrument of record and commitment that advisors and students make together; and, 
Create a cross-campus committee of staff, faculty, and students to collaborate and communicate more effectively.

Fortunately, as UAS has matured over the past three years, we have already made a number of strides toward the outlined goals associated with the 2023 NACADA report, including:

Assessing UAS as a campus unit and rebuilding its structure to be more responsive to student and campus partner needs in each of the academic colleges;
Building out support for day-to-day operations by hiring assistant directors, which also creates a career ladder for advisors; 
 Evaluating work related to academic advising and reducing duplication of effort so that academic advisors can focus on their primary job of advising and retention. Reduction of duplicative efforts allows our campus partners to provide support to students that matches their expertise; 
Receiving a grant to support building a consistent advising training program so that students will have the same, student centered, asset and evidence based advising and  experience across all of advising;
Stabilizing salaries across the unit so that there are no equity gaps within the same classification.
Being accepted into the AASCU Student Success Equity Intensive to work with a campuswide team of students, staff, faculty, and administration to develop a student success plan to holistically retain students.

That UAS team, in the AY 22-23, also held appointments with more than 18,000 unique students in over 47,000 advising appointments, despite being short-staffed for most of the year as the area transitioned from the Great Recession. There is obviously more work to do and so over the remainder of this semester and into next year, SJSU will: 

Continue to fill open positions across UAS and work with colleges to provide support for our students; 
Create a standardized training program that draws upon evidence-based research on advising and retention, which will be required of all those who are involved in academic advising (e.g., faculty and staff);
Work with the colleges to process map faculty advising to be able to clearly articulate our advising model, and provide students with a warm handoff at 60+ units;
Build an assessment of individual advisors, student success centers, and evaluate the advising program beyond the numbers. UAS wants fairness and equity in advisor annual evaluations, and staff to be clear on the standards they are held to for every level: SSP II, III, and IV;
Refocus on updating the Advising Hub website to clearly communicate to students, and other constituencies, how advising works, and what are our policies and procedures.

The work of reorganizing and redesigning advising and student success is a long iterative process. The newest NACADA report tells SJSU that there is still work to be done. As you read through the two reports, and the WASC report sections about advising, UAS looks forward to continued conversation about its next steps. 

In community,

Shonda L. Goward, Ed.D.
Associate Vice Provost, Undergraduate Advising and Success

Vincent J. Del Casino Jr., Ph.D.
Provost and Senior Vice President