Supporting Faculty Advisors

Chico State provides a dual advising system: academic advisors, the “general practitioners,” know something about a lot of things (policies, procedures, GE requirements, etc.); major advisors, “the specialists,” are generally faculty who provide major-specific advising.

In 2013, the provost commissioned a task force to evaluate academic advising on our campus. The task force conducted a department chair survey while the Graduation Initiative Team developed advising priorities. Both actions provided evidence that Chico State needed to enhance support for faculty advising.

Academic Advising Programs (AAP) submitted a Student Success Proposal to the Chancellor’s Office for enhancing the effectiveness of faculty advising at Chico State. The intent was to focus on decreasing the time to graduation and reducing the gap between at-risk student populations’ (first-generation, underrepresented, Pell grant recipients) graduation rates. Funding for an academic advising faculty coordinator position (student services professional III/SSP III) was awarded to AAP.

Photo of Dami HammerA search was conducted and Dami Hammer, a SSP in the AAP office, was hired to fill the role of the academic advising faculty coordinator. Hammer has worked in AAP since 2005. She was initially hired as an intern before transitioning into a professional role in 2006. 

“I feel very honored and privileged that I am able to make a difference every day in a student’s life,” said Hammer.  “I am passionate about the importance of good advising.” 

People often think students go to AAP only seeking help on deciding a major, understanding general education requirements, or assistance with class selection. While these are issues AAP helps students with, advisors also assist students in overcoming personal, social, and academic issues that could prevent them from achieving their academic and career goals. 

Hammer recognizes that helping students succeed takes input and support from many individuals and offices across campus. She is looking forward to the opportunities her new role offers for collaborating with faculty on how to develop and improve advising campus-wide.

“To be able to collaborate with faculty and provide timely advising resources improves a student’s sense of support on this campus,” said Hammer. “AAP has long emphasized the importance of faculty advising and values the wonderful relationships that have been fostered with faculty over the years. Through the creation of this position, it’s finally happening.”

In her prior role, Hammer worked primarily with the College of Behavioral and Social Science faculty. Her new role requires she work with faculty from every college.  Some of the services her new role offers will indirectly affect the success of more students than she could reach individually. Also, taking time to meet with and build a relationship with a student provides better advising and increases the odds of a student’s persistence to graduation. 

“I am extremely excited to play a part in making that happen by discussing with faculty best practices for advising,” Hammer said.

Since stepping into her new role in January, Hammer has begun focusing on a number of tasks:

 Research

  • Reviewing campus advising literature
  • Interviewing other universities on their advising best practices and major advising models; identifying how they reach the majority of their student population

Development (in consultation with department chairs and other major advisors)

  • Collaborating with each college to identify their specific needs
  • Developing ideas for bringing together campus advising options: major advising, career and life advising, campus (such as AAP, Career Center, Wellness Center, FYE;  technology tools such as Smart Planner, Scheduler, and Degree Audit Report) and community resources

 Service

  • Providing acronym cheat sheet
  • Attending Smart Planner Training for various colleges to meet the faculty and offer additional training (if need be)
  • Facilitating the Advising Boot Camp for first- and second-year professors in the College of Natural Science
  • Conducting an Advising Boot Camp for professors in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
    • Workshops cover
      • Best practices for academic and career advising
      • Requirements for BA or BS degree
      • General Education (GE) requirements and minors in GE
      • How to use the Degree Progress Report (DPR) to help their advisees stay on track to graduate in the major

There are a number of goals Hammer hopes to accomplish in the short-term:

Attend college/department meetings and listen, listen, listen!

  • Consult with departments on major advising models best suited to their programs in order to facilitate effective advising
  • Create publications and directories for faculty advising
  • Discuss with department chairs further collaboration opportunities for working with advisors and providing assistance where needed
  • Attend New Faculty Orientation session to provide a quick overview of GE requirements, pathways, writing-intensive courses, etc.
  • Offer tailored workshops on advising, Degree Audit Report, AgileGrad, Smart Planner, GPA calculations, and repeat with forgiveness

Hammer’s long-term goal is to explore opportunities for an advisor training program and develop a campus wide training or certificate program that includes best practices.

In the long term, Hammer recognizes her role is new and will likely evolve as she partners with faculty and continues to learn about their specific advising needs. Collaboration is key as we begin to explore future directions of advising support for faculty on our campus. Please do not hesitate to contact her directly, she would love to hear from you about your needs and wants!