Colgate Experiences Changes in First-Year Administrative Advising

Colgate Experiences Changes in First-Year Administrative Advising

Megan Leo

The summer months brought several changes to the Colgate community, including the departure of Dean of First-Year Students Beverly Low. While holding this position for the past 13 years, Dean Low oversaw first-year administrative advising, the Link program and New Student Orientation. Rather than hire a replacement dean to lead these first-year programs, Colgate’s administration has shifted responsibilities among existing staff so that Colgate may continue to offer the same level of service to students. This new interim team is made up of faculty, staff and students who report to several different deans within the Office of the Dean of the College and the Dean of Students. 

“Dean Low essentially did everything … so [the administration] carved out pieces of her previous job description and put it into another job description, which is a coordinator position that will report to me,” Associate Dean for Administrative

 Advising Marrlee Burgess said.

These coordinator positions will be in direct contact with both the students and an administrative dean who will be

 taking leadership with

 first-year advising.

Since 2001, Dean Low was the sole advising dean to first-year students. In her absence, Colgate has divided up the incoming class among five deans: Associate Dean for Administrative Advising Marrlee Burgess, Assistant Dean for Administrative Advising Aurelius Henderson, Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Scholars Programs Peter Tschirhart, Assistant Dean and Director of International Student Services Christina Khan and Assistant Dean for

Administrative Advising Sarah Courtney. Some students are assigned to deans randomly, while others are intentionally assigned.

“We have programmatic students, such as international students and Benton scholars, who will be assigned to the director of those programs … since we intersect with these students anyways, it made sense to align the dean with the programmatic responsibilities. Students who don’t connect to any of those programs are assigned by alphabetical order,” Burgess said. 

Though the first-year advising for this academic year is undergoing many changes, it is only a one-year model. Sorting students by programs is the first of many steps toward further introducing the University’s plan of “Living the Liberal Arts.” Within this plan, Colgate has developed a vision of creating residential living clusters that will act as a very intentional living and learning environment on campus.

As the dynamic of first-year advising changes, Colgate’s administration is working diligently to accommodate the needs of its students.

“It’s really important as we’re looking

forward that we’re meeting needs and also trying to see, with the existing resources and the strategic vision of the

college, what is the best model to put together,” Burgess said.

Link staff leader and senior Emily Hawkins was a part of link staff for two years under Dean Low. Hawkins explained the transition that the Link program has experienced under new leadership this year. 

“I think that everybody is trying to pick up the pieces left behind now that Dean Low has moved on to bigger and better things. Considering Dean Low was in charge of the Link staff for 13 years, everybody has done an honorable job throughout this process,” Hawkins said. 

Though the Link staff has had to adjust to recent administrative changes, Hawkins maintained that the most important quality of the Link staff remains constant: student passion. 

“Everybody has an enthusiasm for this program. Recent changes have definitely not affected our

cohesion as a group,” Hawkins said.

Dean Low took pride in her first-year programs, but her replacements are ready and eager to make their own mark on first-year programs. Dean Low’s endless wisdom regarding Orientation and Link Staff will be greatly missed, but the cohesion of the interim team has allowed Colgate to meet the needs of all its incoming students.