Robert Anderson, who recently received a national award for his work with first-year students, has assumed the new position of assistant provost for Liberal Learning and Academic Advisement.
Anderson’s title changed from director of Liberal Learning in December, prompted by the College’s need to reform the advisement system.
“The change in Bob’s duties was based on an institutional belief that the importance of student advisement needs to be highlighted,” Matt Golden, director of Communications and Media Relations, said.
Anderson said it was important to him that he did not receive any extra money in his new position. “We’re in a budget crisis,” he said. “I don’t want to be getting rich.”
Anderson said that a series of impromptu meetings began in the summer, when Carlos Alves, professor of mathematics, stepped down from the position of dean in charge of academic advisement. These meetings focused on “brainstorming how to make advising better,” Anderson said.
Anderson said students would constantly come to his office, because they received “bad advice or no advice” from their advisors.
Although Anderson believes the College does a good job with departmental advising, “enough (people) don’t do a good job with liberal learning.”
Anderson said those at the meetings came up with a list of different practices, an advising planning council and a task force. However, “it was time to actually do something,” he said. “(We needed) an office that could be a clearinghouse and a think-tank for advising.”
Anderson said they needed someone to run the advisement that knew how to do administration; Anderson is a faculty member and a full-time administrator.
Although there is a difference in the title, Anderson said his duties have not changed much.
Some aspects of his old position, however, have been taken over by other professors. Glenn Steinberg, associate professor of English, has taken over scheduling the First Seminar Program (FSP) classes, while Richard Kamber, professor of philosophy and religion, is now in charge of the interdisciplinary concentrations.
“Budget issues have led to many staff members absorbing additional duties,” Golden said, “but this move was predicated by years of studying the way we conduct and coordinate student advisement.”
Anderson said that the new system has been “working so far.”
“We’re making progress,” he said. “We’ve got a long way to go.”
In addition to his new title, Anderson recently won the Outstanding First-year Student Advocate award from the National Resource Center for First-year Experience and Students in Transition.
Anderson was nominated by Provost Beth Paul and said that 10 out of 161 nominees were chosen to win the award.
“We couldn’t ask for a better representative of our school,” Golden said. “His commitment to student success is something of which we can be very proud.”
“It adds visibility,” Anderson said. “Anything that puts the College on the map is good for us.”