April update from the dean

CATEGORIES: Announcements

Dear LAS faculty, staff and graduate students,

As we near the end of another academic year, we are turning more and more attention to planning for fall and the next few years.  I hope you read President Wintersteen’s March 12 message about moving forward and preparing for fall, when we expect to be operating much more like semesters prior to the pandemic. A new Moving Forward Committee has been working with university workgroups on plans for operations and returning to campus, and you will receive updates via Inside Iowa State as milestones and expectations are set.

Next year’s academic calendar, with its return to sixteen-week semesters, is a calendar that builds on the innovations of this year. After the significant success of our first winter session, the new Iowa State calendar will allow for recurring winter sessions. Many thanks, again, to everyone who helped make this new opportunity a success!

Moving forward in LAS will include a significant structural change in college student services, aimed at improving the experience and academic performance of LAS students.

Historically, undergraduate advising in the college has been the responsibility of our departments and programs with general guidance provided by the college office. This has resulted in a decentralized model which, over time, has developed inconsistencies and inequities in how students are served.

After several months of work and consideration by a workgroup of LAS advisors and faculty, our college HR partner and input from department chairs, program directors, faculty and advisors from all over the college, we are implementing a new model of undergraduate student advising.

Over the next several months, we will be transitioning from the current mix of faculty and staff who carry out advising responsibilities to a more focused team of professional advisors. Advisors will continue to work with students based on the student’s major and home department, and students will still be assigned to a specific advisor. We know these relationships are very important. Advising staff will be part of advising teams, grouped by similar academic areas, so that they can provide backup if needed, with department-specific knowledge and guidance.

A small number of faculty who can commit to regular trainings, communication and a consistent, data-driven advising process will continue to serve as academic advisors. For all other faculty,  we encourage you to embrace your  role  as mentors or “coaches.” As always, faculty will provide critical guidance and support to students, and we look forward to working with departments and programs throughout the college to leverage faculty expertise in conjunction with the new advising model.

We are confident this new model will allow faculty and staff to devote time to student success in a focused manner, which will help students achieve their academic goals. If you’d like to learn more about this change, you can find a Q&A document here or contact Associate Dean Amy Slagell (aslagell@iastate.edu).

As we head into the home stretch of the semester, I’d also like to remind you of a couple of things:

And finally, I want to acknowledge how much I appreciate your continued efforts and support of our students and each other. Without our traditional spring break, many are feeling tired, stressed, or maybe even exhausted. You’ve adapted to so many changes, contributed to innovative solutions, and no matter how heavy the load, we keep moving forward.

I believe we are emerging from the pandemic with a new resilience and a renewed source of innovation. Think about all we have accomplished – including record student outcomes – and give yourself room to celebrate. And more importantly, if you are struggling, please reach out for support. From your family, your friends, your colleagues, or university resources: https://web.iastate.edu/safety/.

Thank you so much for everything you do to make LAS a remarkable place for learning and discovery.

I hope you had a chance to enjoy the wonderful weather last weekend. The spring wildflowers are in full bloom. Here are three of my favorites. Left to right: Hepatica, Sanguinaria (Bloodroot) and Trillium.

Hepatica Sanguinaria (Bloodroot) Trillium

With my best wishes,