Resources for Advisors
The Role of the Advisor
Organizations are required to have an approved advisor who is either a full-time faculty or staff member. This will be approved by the Assistant to the Vice President for Student Life. Student Life can provide some assistance to the organizations in the selections of an advisor. Some organizations may even find it helpful to have more than one advisor for specialized functions.
A. Selecting an Advisor
When selecting an advisor…
• Find a full-time AU faculty or staff person who will have the time to devote to your organization.• Make sure that this person will take the role willingly and seriously, and find someone who has knowledge or skills related to the mission/purpose of the organization.
• Make certain that he/she has a clear understanding of the organization’s purpose.
• If possible, choose someone who has previously interacted with the leadership of the organization.
• When starting a departmental club, the organization may want to select a faculty member from the department as an advisor.
• Discuss with the potential advisor what is required, his/her duties, and the time commitment involved.
• Be open and honest about the types of activities in which the organization may participate.
• Allow the person a reasonable length of time to make a decision.
B. The Role of the Advisor
By sharing knowledge about the university and personal experiences, the advisor can assist the organization in the conduct of its activities. In addition, valuable, mutually rewarding, co-curricular relationships between students and advisors are fostered. The relationship between an advisor and an organization will vary from year to year and individual to individual. However, the student/advisor relationship can be crucial to the success of the organization. The list that follows contains possible roles of an advisor it is important that the advisor and the organization communicate their expectations to each other. The advisor should be very clear about the things he/she will do, and the things he/she will not do. Of course, the expectations will vary according to the needs of the organization and the advisor.
• The advisor supports participation in student organizations for its contributions to the educational and personal development of students.
• Advisors should serve as coach to student organizations but not dictate the group’s programs or activities. However, advisors should be frank in offering suggestions, considerations or ideas, and discussing possible consequences.
• The advisor should be well informed about the plans and activities of the organization. The expectation is that the advisor will attend club meetings and events and will consult frequently with the organization’s officers.
• The advisor should know the goals and directions of the organization and should help the group evaluate its progress.
• The advisor should be aware of the constitution and bylaws of the organization and help with interpretation, if applicable.
• The advisor provides a source of continuity within the organization and is familiar with the organization’s history.
• The advisor should be familiar with university values, policies, and procedures and help the organization comply wit them.
• The advisor should be aware of the general financial condition of the organization, encourage good record keeping, and suggest corrective measures, when necessary.
• The advisor should help in training new officers and help them develop their leadership skills.
• The advisor should be prepared to deal with major problems or emergencies within the organization.
• The advisor should monitor group functioning and encourage members to fully participate, to assume appropriate responsibility for group activities, to maintain a balance between academic activities, and to maintain a balance between academic activities and co-curricular commitments.
As flexible as the particular role of an advisor may be, all advisors are bound in the activities by certain limitations:
• Advisors may not have access to student organization funds. Although advisors sometimes supervise organization finances, they may not engage in any financial transactions on behalf of the organization.
• Advisors may not release student data of a confidential nature to organization members. For example, advisors may be asked to verify grade point avers, calculate a cumulative GPA for the group, or search out the organization member with the highest GPA. Each organization member must consent in writing to nay such grade analysis before it is conducted. Advisors are referred to the policy on the “Release of Information Pertaining to Students.”
C. The Organization’s Responsibilities to the Advisor
Keep in mind that the advisor is voluntarily associated with the organization. It is the organization’s responsibility to inform the advisor on the activities of the organization.
• Notify the advisor of all meetings and events.
• Consult your advisor in the planning of all activities.
• Consult him/her before any changes in the structure of the organization, or in the policies of the organization are made, and before major projects are undertaken.
• Understand that although the advisor has no vote that he/she should have speaking prvilies during your deliberations.
• Remember that the responsibility for the success or failure of the organization and its projects rests ultimately with the group, not the advisor.
• Talk over any problems or concerns with the advisor.
• Acknowledge that the advisor’s time and energy are donated, and express appreciation often.
• Be clear and open about your expectations for your advisor’s role.
• At the end of each semester, evaluate your advisor and give appropriate feedback.
D. Suggestions for Effective Advising
The maturity/skill level of the organization and its leadership should dictate your style of advising. IF they have beginning skill levels, you may need to be more actively involved with the organization. As the elders’ skill level matures, you can then decrease the amount of direction you need to provide the organization.
• Express sincere enthusiasm and interest in the group and its activities.
• Be open to feedback from the group. Talk with them regarding your roles as advisor. Be willing to admit mistakes.
• Provide feedback to the group and the leaders regarding their performance.
• Be familiar with the Student Activities Guidelines and this manual so that you can be a knowledge able resources for the group.
• Participate with the organization and get to know the members. Be available and accessible to them. They will feel more comfortable with you and be more open to your input if they know you.
• Following organization meetings, discuss any problems encountered during the meeting with the officers.
• Be careful of becoming too involved with the organization. Remember that you are not a member. Your role is to advise, assist, and facilitate.
E. Withdrawal of Advisorship
There may come a time when an advisor no longer wishes to continue in his/her role. Whether the reason is lack of time, waning interested, disagreement with the organization’s direction, or if he/she leaves the employ of the University, an advisor may withdraw his/her participation at any time.
Once an advisor has made the decision to withdraw, we encourage that advisor to talk with the organization’s leadership and assist them, if possible, in locating another advisor. Send a letter to the Assistant to the Vice President for Student Life documenting the change.
Since organizations are required to have an advisor, your withdrawal will place the organization in an unregistered status until a new advisor is found.