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Advising Student Organizations: Penance Or Privilege?

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.58.1 - 4.58.5

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Kay C Dee

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1375

Advising Student Organizations: Penance or Privilege?

Kay C Dee Tulane University

Often, the first form of departmental or university service experienced by new faculty members is the role of a “faculty advisor” for a student organization. New educators tend to become student organization faculty advisors for a number of reasons: it can be an excellent way to meet many students outside the classroom and to establish a reputation in your new institution; advising a student organization can require less institution-specific knowledge than (the more traditional) committee service; and, frankly, some faculty members can view advising student organizations as a distasteful chore or as “penance” to be paid as you climb the academic ladder - as a result, this job can tend to fall to the newest person in the department.

Advising a student organization can be a rewarding experience, but can also be nerve-wracking for new engineering educators. Our first years as faculty members are often spent learning about one-on-one student advising through trial and error - accepting the responsibility to advise an entire student group can be overwhelming. Enthusiastic new educators can easily fall into the trap of over-advising, or micromanaging, a student group. Conversely, well-meaning and laid- back advisors can adopt a “hands-off” attitude which can significantly lower the morale and/or productivity of a student group. As new faculty, we often search for balance; we struggle to balance the demands of teaching and research and to balance our personal and professional obligations. Balance is probably also the key to effectively advising student organizations.

Developing balance (and wisdom, which seems to be associated with Five Principles of Advising balance) requires time and patience. Student Organizations Since I am still questing for balance (and wisdom, and time, and patience) 1. Be Accessible. and yet am already serving as a faculty 2. Be Quiet. advisor for student organizations, I 3. Behave. have assembled a short set of advising 4. Be Supportive. principles (Table 1) derived from 5. Be Smart. teaching techniques1-4. This paper will present and expand upon the principles in Table 1, which have been Table 1. Short List of Advising Principles. very useful during my time as the Of course, seeking balance is still a worthy goal. faculty advisor for the Tulane student chapters of two professional societies and one honor society.

Dee, K. C. (1999, June), Advising Student Organizations: Penance Or Privilege? Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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