Advising manual now available

Students may now acquire a new manual that explains undergraduate advising in detail, a helpful guide toward an eventual degree.

The guide, “Undergraduate Advising Handbook,” is free and was produced for the Information and Academic Support Center (IASC), located on the fourth floor of Smith Memorial Student Union.

Mary Ann Barham, assistant director of IASC, said the handbook provides a stopgap guide until a Web site with the same information is up and running. The Web site will have the advantage of continual updating as information changes and develops.

The 26-page handbook is available at IASC in Room 425 of Smith Memorial Student Union. It is also available at other locations.

It attempts to answer the question, “What do I do after being admitted to Portland State University?”

The booklet explains orientation, covers where to go for advising, tells how to prepare for an advising session, offers essential tools to have and outlines the importance of the Degree Audit Reporting System (DARS).

One chart summarizes the three components of university requirements for a baccalaureate degree. Another chart traces a student’s progress from freshman inquiry through their senior capstone. It gives examples and lists of degree requirements. Much other essential information appears, such as an explanation of grades and how to apply for graduation.

A final section details academic resources and services throughout the university, including phone numbers and Web sites.

Numerous offices and departments contributed information to the booklet copy. Jean Tuomi, associate director of publications, created the layout for the guide.

The handbook marks a step forward in realizing a program proposed in 1999 by PSU President Daniel O. Bernstine.

He called it the Presidential Initiative on Student Advising.

It was Bernstine’s desire to institute compulsory advising for all students. However, a number of faculty and staff members resisted the idea. One objection was that it was not needed. Another was that it would put undue strain on faculty resources already overcommitted.

One of Bernstine’s plans was to ask the Student Advising Implementation Team to identify and address obstacles to effective undergraduate advising. Barham said this group began formulating its plans about nine months ago.

“We talked about the one single thing that would provide comprehensive information on a Web site, that would pull together all the advising information,” Barham said.

It has remained to Nate Angell, assistant director for Web communications in the Office of Marketing and Communications, to revamp parts of the PSU Web site to accommodate this information.

“Our goal is by summer we will have all of the information in the handbook on the Web site, with links to the various departments,” Barham said.

As project manager, Barham has ultimate responsibility for the Web site. A part-time writer, Sherie Guess, was hired to work on the Web site until it is up. She recently graduated from the master’s program in writing. A program to tie into admissions and records is now being developed.

“We’re hoping to do some other innovative things,” Barham said. “We are talking about some interactive features.”

The handbook was planned around the campus as a temporary source of information while the Web site undergoes development. When the site is up, the handbook will continue to be available until the current edition is gone, then it will become entirely replaced by the site.

“The Web site will be easier to update,” Barham said. “There will be less cost than printing a new edition of the handbooks every year.”

Currently, all faculty members have received copies of the book. Bill Ryder, coordinator of new student orientation, is using them at all orientation sessions. Copies have gone to all students in freshman and sophomore inquiry courses.

Besides IASC, the handbook is available at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences advising center, the School of Business student services office and the College of Engineering and Computer Sciences dean’s office.

The “Where do I go for advising?” section omits any listing for the College of Urban and Public Affairs and the School of Fine and Performing Arts. Barham said that is because these two entities have no central advising offices. She suggests students in those areas go directly to their major departments for advising help.

The IASC, where guides are available at the front desk, is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; and 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Thursday.