In the fallout from last week’s norovirus outbreak, Provost Jim O’Donnell instructed ill students to contact their dean to have their absences excused. If you’re in the College, you probably had to reach for a campus directory to look up the name of “your dean.”

The College Deans’ Office has become notorious for failing to establish a strong rapport between deans and students. While we recognize the hard work of the College deans, we think that added funding and more openness to advising students for all four years would ensure that all four schools have comparable advising apparatuses.

There is some logic behind the fractured nature of the College Deans system. In its current form, the College Deans’ Office is divided into three groups. The first specializes in first-year advising. These deans assist admitted students with course selection over the summer and advise them once they finally arrive on the Hilltop. The second focuses on sophomores and juniors, with a particular focus on major selection and study abroad advising. Finally, the senior deans work to make sure everyone is on track to graduate on time. While this sounds like a fractured system in theory, in practice, it allows deans to narrow their area of expertise and provide students with better advice based on where they are in their academic careers. Further, as Dean Chiarolanzio told the Editorial Board, the College has too many majors to model its advising system after one of the other schools. Since the College has 41 majors (and some majors are much more popular than others), they would not be able to efficiently advise students by area of study.

While we understand the constraints on the College deans, we see two problems that the university should address.

First, the College has a serious deficit of deans. The Office of the President and the Office of the Provost should consider ways to increase the number of deans so the College doesn’t continue to dramatically lag behind the other three schools in terms of their advising-dean-to-student ratio. In the SFS, the advising-dean-to-student ratio is about 1:175. In the MSB and the NHS respectively, the ratios are 1:261 and 1:151. Even though the College tends to attract students with a broad focus who may need more advising, the dean to student ratio is 1:266. In other words, a dean in the College is in charge of 52 percent more students than a dean in the SFS. Since it seems unlikely that the College deans have to work longer hours, we can only assume that College students get less attention from their deans than other students.

Second, the College deans should be more open to advising students continuously over four or three years. Not everyone wants a close relationship with his or her dean, but those who do should have this option available to them. While students can, of course, foster relationships with their first-year deans that may last the duration of their careers on the Hilltop, this doesn’t seem to be the predominate culture in ICC or White-Gravenor. Instead of this ad hoc approach, the Deans’ Office should encourage students to retain a dean as their primary adviser throughout their time on the Hilltop. College students deserve as much personal attention from their deans as students in the other schools.

CORRECTION: In the original editorial, the ratio of undergraduate students to deans in the MSB was incorrectly stated as being 1:133.

THE HOYA has revamped its blogs. Check out our sports blog, newsroom blog and neighborhood blog here.

Comments are closed.