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Advising and Professional Development Program: Integrating Faculty Advisement and Alumni Participation

Contributed by Lynda Capuzzi
Office of Advising and Professional Development

The Advising and Professional Development Program in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is a comprehensive program that integrates faculty advising and alumni participation to demonstrate that the liberal arts and sciences is a foundation for whatever one chooses to do in life. This distinguishes Villanova’s approach from that of other advising programs in that it emphasizes the interrelationship between personal, intellectual, and professional development.

Deep respect for the uniqueness of the individual and the knowledge that learning is a continuous process forms the basis of the relationship between the faculty advisor and the student. This relationship is a shared responsibility. Advisor training, which brings the newest and most creative ideas to the faculty, is ongoing. Additionally, the faculty meets regularly to discuss ways to enhance advising with comprehensive initiatives that compliment the uniqueness of our University and our students.

Beginning with the first meeting during New Student Orientation, advisors seek to engage students in discussions about the value of a liberal arts and sciences education as a foundation for life-long learning. Skills learned in the core liberal arts and sciences include: problem solving, communication, leadership, analytical, and critical-thinking skills that will help students to be successful in any profession.

“A liberal arts and sciences education provides you with a range of skills that will prepare you for a world that is constantly changing,” said Faculty Advisor James McGann, Ph.D., an assistant professor of political science.

Discussions between advisors and advisees occur in both individual and group sessions throughout the student’s first and second year until he or she declares the academic major. Both individual and group sessions cover such topics as adjusting to University life, thinking about what the student values, areas of interest and how that relates to course selection, discussions about grades and academic success, and academic majors.

Faculty advisors refer students to other offices on campus that will serve their needs. Some times, students share concerns about roommate issues, so advisors will refer students to the Office of Residence Life for assistance. As the advisor gets to know students’ interests, he or she will refer them to academic departments for discussion about the major and to other student services’ offices, which handle internships, service learning courses, and study abroad. In addition, faculty advisors provide students with informed access to the vast array of academic support services, including the Math Learning and Resource Center, Writing Center, Language Lab, and the University’s Office for Learning Support Services, Counseling Center, and Office of Campus Ministry.

“We are looking at students’ personal development as inseparable from their professional development," said Nancy Allen, Ph.D., director of the Office of Advising and Professional Development. “As students begin the University experience, they are unaware of the many opportunities available to them when they graduate from Villanova. To show them, we invite alumni to campus to share their experiences with our students. As faculty advisors, we tell students that their degrees in the liberal arts and sciences will prepare them for many professional paths, and our alumni provide the models.”

During the spring 2008 semester, seven alumni sessions were held for first-year students. With groups of no more then 20 students, alumni engaged students in active dialogue about intellectual, personal, vocational, and professional growth. The following alumni shared their journeys:

Karen Buleza, ‘99, biology major. Karen works at Tibotec Inc, a division of Johnson and Johnson, as a manager of Phase I, II, and III studies in HIV.

Ryan Costello, ‘04, honors, political science, and English major with a Chinese Minor. Ryan currently serves as the special assistant to the chief of staff for U.S. Senator Bob Casey, Jr., of Pennsylvania, where he handles special projects and advises on issues related to China.

Naomi Karam Koerwitz, ‘88, political science and communication major. Naomi is director of political coverage for NBC News and has held various positions with NBC and MSNBC.

James (Terry) McGrath, ‘75, general science major. Terry received his doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Pennsylvania and owns the Rocky Hill Veterinary Clinic, where he works primarily with small and exotic animals.

Kathryn N. Nelson, ‘99, psychology major. Katie received a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from The Catholic University of America and has extensive experience in clinical and research psychology, focusing on serious mental illness, suicide, and mood and anxiety disorders.

Travis P. Nelson, Esq., ‘98, political science major. Travis is currently an attorney in the Financial Services Practice Group of Pepper Hamilton LLP, resident in Philadelphia and Princeton, New Jersey. Before entering private practice, Travis was an attorney at the U.S. Treasury Department.

Lynne O’Brien, ‘01, philosophy and Spanish major with an education minor. Lynne is currently working with the Major Trials Unit of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office as an Assistant District Attorney.

During the fall 2008 semester, two alumni panel discussions and a keynote speaker will be held, and students will be invited to attend a workshop in Professional Writing. The Advising and Professional Development Program works with the Office of Career Services to prepare students for life and work in the 21st century. The many activities the office sponsors enable students to see multiple academic and vocational possibilities. With the self knowledge that they gain though these events, students make decisions about future professions and graduate programs.

“The Advising and Professional Development Program allowed for the extra attention I needed in figuring out my course in life,” said Christopher Wiley, ‘10, a biology major. “It gave me the resources I needed to get on the right track. The events inspired me to think in terms of the long run and have a clearer idea of my future. I would definitely recommend...(it)...for anyone who is still searching for their vocation in life.”

For more information, please call 610-519-4661, or visit the office on the Web.

Media Contact

Jennifer Schu

Director of Communications, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

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