Campus Initiatives: Support for Academic Advising Professionals
Academic advising professionals are a critical part of undergraduate student success at UCR. For many years, our advisors have juggled the demands of serving increased student enrollments along with a growing workload of administrative tasks that are needed to support our programs but are often loosely related to academic advising. Recently, the campus has made several investments that will enhance our academic advising capacity and impact.
- The Campus Finance Committee recommended and the Provost approved $308,000 in ongoing support to create a centralized transfer credit and articulation unit within Enrollment Services. The new, specialized staff in this unit will reduce the non-advising workload of our academic advisors by an estimated 7400 hours annually, thereby freeing up time for higher value advising activities with students. Many of these work hours occur while advisors are also reviewing and processing graduation applications, so the new unit will be especially helpful for alleviating this workload bottleneck for advisors.
- The Campus Finance Committee recommended and the Provost approved a one-time allocation of $300,000 to implement a Customer Relations Management (CRM) system for academic advisors. This is a high priority request from the student affairs managers in our schools and colleges, and will be built in Slate which is already used by Enrollment Services and Graduate Division. The CRM will enable more efficient electronic record management, petition routing, communication, and appointment scheduling for academic advisors, thus reducing advisors’ transactional workload and making more time available for advising students on their academic goals.
- Consistent with the 2020 external review of academic advising at UCR, Undergraduate Education is collaborating with the student affairs managers and the associate/divisional deans for student academic affairs to establish common goals, processes, best practices, and success metrics among our academic advisors. This effort will address the need, expressed in the review, for greater consistency in the advising experience for students, while also maintaining appropriate autonomy in the schools and colleges.
- The Campus Finance Committee recommended and the Provost approved $30,000 in ongoing support to enhance professional development for academic advisors, as recommended in the 2020 external review, including access to courses, webinars, conferences, and other resources. This also will help address anticipated training needs arising from the advising CRM implementation.
- Undergraduate Education is working with the Student Affairs Manager in the School of Public Policy to expand and support Peer Academic Advising (PAA) across the campus. Three of our schools already have adopted a PAA program which utilizes students for simpler, transactional advising tasks while also providing them with a valuable professional development opportunity. This helps to reduce advisor workload and creates more time for higher value advising activities.
- Undergraduate Education is working with our academic advisors to expand the ScottyBot database to help reduce advisor workload associated with responding to simpler, repetitive questions from students that the chatbot can adequately answer.
- The schools and colleges have increased the number of academic advisors on campus from 43.7 FTE in September 2021 to 48.5 FTE in January 2023. This has produced a 4% improvement in the average advising caseload campus-wide.
- To help guide future hiring and investments in advising, the Provost is charging a working group to undertake a detailed investigation of our student retention data to better understand areas of greatest need for additional hiring and investments in academic advising.
If you have questions or suggestions about how we can further enhance academic advising at UCR, please reach out to any of us or to the student affairs manager or associate/divisional dean for student academic affairs in your school or college.
Interim Vice Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Education
Associate Vice Chancellor, Enrollment Services
Associate Dean for Student Success, Division of Undergraduate Education