Office of Public Affairs

(315) 312-2265

Sept. 10, 2003

CONTACT: Dr. Rhonda Mandel, 312-2232


    OSWEGO -- SUNY Oswego's 3-year-old First-Year Advisement Program is winning national recognition. The program for new students will receive an Outstanding Institutional Advising Program Certificate of Merit next month at the annual meeting of the National Academic Advising Association in Dallas.

    The program matches incoming students with faculty and peer advisers before they arrive on campus to help integrate them into the campus community and keep them on track to a degree in four years.

    Directed by Michelle Bandla, Oswego's program is one of 12 to be honored with this award in nationwide competition this year. The 12 include programs at such institutions as the University of Wisconsin at Madison and Purdue University.

    "This honor is an affirmation that our First-Year Advisement Program not only makes a tremendous difference on campus, but is recognized nationally for its effectiveness in meeting the needs of our students," President Deborah F. Stanley said.

    Associate Provost Rhonda Mandel nominated Oswego's program in NACADA's national awards program last fall. It has proven effective in keeping students satisfied and enrolled at Oswego, she said.

    Retention of first-year students increased by about 9 percent in the first two years of the program, Mandel said, and for students in at least one other first-year program -- such as FirstChoice or the First-Year Residential Experience -- retention increased from 11 to 14 percent.

    In the program, each first-year student is assigned to one of about 60 faculty-peer adviser teams and notified by both members of that team during the summer before the student attends.

    Each faculty adviser meets with each student at least five times during the year, beginning with opening weekend, Bandla said. Each faculty adviser has about 25 advisees. Peer advisers also meet with students and plan activities and workshops for them.

    Both faculty and peer advisers receive training in campus resources, student development issues, student success factors and principles of best practice. Peer advisers take a one-credit course designed specifically to assist them in their responsibilities. Faculty and peer advisers also meet together to refine the faculty-peer relationships and to define responsibilities and expectations.

    Assessment results indicate that faculty, staff, peer advisers and first-year students are "highly satisfied" with the program, Mandel said.

    "The impact of advising on student satisfaction and retention is well documented," said Betsy McCalla-Wriggins, president of NACADA, "and it is through efforts such as those of SUNY Oswego that we are able to share new advances with others."

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