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  • Spectator - Kate Elias Lightens Advising Shortage

    By Katy McCourt-Basham | The Spectator

    November 9, 2009

    On her first week of work, Kate Elias met more than a few new faces. The College of Arts and Sciences’ new full-time academic adviser faced a severe advising shortage, in the midst of advising season.

    Suki Kwon’s departure from her advising position in mid September left many students without advisers, and until now, the chairs of respective departments picked up the slack to help Kwon’s former advisees while Dean David Powers and Provost Isiaah Crawford looked for a new adviser.

    “Though there was a hiring freeze at the time, we wanted to go forward with advising,” said Audrey Hudgins, assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

    Now, the hiring freeze has thawed.

    The college chose Kate Elias—who will help alleviate the workload put on other Seattle U advisers—from among more than 200 replies to the job posting.

    Elias, who began her advising career while working on her PhD in American history at Rutgers University, has years of experience.

    “I began working as an adviser for undergraduate students,” Elias said, “and that’s where I fell in love with a new profession.”

    Though Elias finished her studies and got her PhD, she only pursued work in the advising field—working at Oregon Sate University and Lynnfield College.

    Elias grew up in the Seattle area, and though she did not attend Seattle U, she has known many people who have attended the university.

    “I feel like I’ve spent a lot of time around Seattle University even though I’ve never been a student here,” Elias said. “When I saw the posting online, I decided to apply.”

    Because of her strong academic qualifications and extensive advising experience, Hudgins said Elias was a strong candidate from the get-go.

    “We sorted through hundreds of applications,” said Hudgins, “and there were many very strong candidates. We eventually brought four to the university to be interviewed and ended up hiring Kate Elias.”

    Though Elias just started her new job this week, she will begin taking advising appointments as soon as possible. She also has the difficult task of taking on some of Kwon’s bigger projects.

    “Suki has big shoes to fill,” said Hudgins.

    Part of Kwon’s legacy in the college of arts and sciences is the Academic Advising Support Center, located in the Casey building.

    Hudgins said that the college is hoping to build on the foundations of this center by possibly reworking the way Arts & Sciences advising is handled.

    The college may be looking to streamline the system by having students see a professional adviser in their first two years of study—years that are mostly spent working on Core requirements. In their junior and senior years, they would then work with faculty advisers in their respective departments in their junior and senior years.

    Hudgins said one of the benefits of this system would be that it would allow students to work with advisers more experienced with Core requirements. Faculty advisers usually are not as focused on the Core as they are on the major classes in their departments, so students may end up getting more comprehensive advising.

    There are many pros and cons as well as much more work to do with advising in the College of Arts and Sciences.

    “Ultimately, we are ahead of where we were when this all started,” Hudgins said, “No matter what we end up doing, the goal is to have more advisers providing services to students, whether it be professional advising like we have in this office, or through faculty advising in the various departments.”

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