The Bulletin reported Feb. 14 that in place of faculty advisers in the Student Advising Center (SAC), students will instead meet with a professional adviser next fall. In the article, Jacoda Barger, freshman psychology major, said students would benefit from “unbiased advice and information” when the change takes effect.
But some professors, like Charles Brown, professor of philosophy, said the statement unfairly judged faculty advisers.
“This implies that faculty advisers are biased and lack adequate knowledge to properly advise students,” Brown said in an e-mail to The Bulletin after the article ran. “This is an unfortunate and undeserved insult to faculty.”
Gwen Alexander, interim provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, said she didn’t know what information or experiences prompted Barger’s comment, but she thought it “would depend on specific situations and people – one or the other could be better or worse.”
Thomas O’Barto, senior history education major, said faculty advisers are not biased.
“What we have now with faculty is a one-on-one,” O’Barto said. “They know you, they’ve taken classes with you, and they know you by name.”
But O’Barto also said there will still be some beneficial aspects to having a professional adviser in SAC.
“The benefits with professional advisers would be (for) students who didn’t know what they want to major in because of the wide range of degrees that we can get at Emporia State,” O’Barto said.
Another concern Brown mentioned in the email was a claim regarding adjunct faculty members who are hired to teach the classes that regular faculty cannot when they are reassigned to advising.
“While this may be true in very limited cases, it is certainly not generally true,” Brown said. “This information seems to imply that faculty advisors in the SAC office are very expensive for the university. I believe this to be false.”
Alexander defined an adjunct as a person who is hired to teach one or more courses over a semester but is not part of the regular faculty. She said the cost to hire adjuncts varies, depending on which department they are in. For the time that professors spend in advising in SAC instead of teaching, others will have bridge the gap in their course load.
“If another full-time faculty member is assigned this extra course (to bridge the gap), then ESU will have to pay (them) an ‘overage’ payment on top of the base salary,” Alexander said. “That payment is calculated on the faculty member’s base salary…and there is a very wide range in faculty salaries across the (ESU).”
The change will only affect those students who are either undecided or starting their first year. Faculty will continue to advise those students with decided majors.
“ESU administrators are researching ways to be more efficient and effective within our resources,” said Alexander. “This is one of many small changes that will help us progress in that direction.”