CSAS enhances communication

The Columbian School of Arts and Sciences recently developed an e-mail list to disseminate academic information and increase communication between students and deans, said Kim Moreland, CSAS associate dean of undergraduate affairs.

Undergraduate Student Association Sen. Alexis Rice (CSAS) said she approached CSAS Dean Lester Lefton last year after students brought up concerns about a lack of communication between the school and the students. Rice said e-mail was chosen as the most effective method to close the communication gap.

“There’s just so many people,” Rice said. “E-mail really helps get information out – everyone has e-mail.”

Moreland said her office will send out notices regarding key dates, such as the last day to drop courses, notices about graduation application appointments and events of academic significance. She said, however, the school will not fill students’ boxes with a deluge of messages.

“It is for sending out information on critical dates students should know about,” Moreland said. “We won’t be using it to advertise a fraternity having a kegger.”

CSAS senior Tara Kelly said the listserv is a good idea not only because it informs students about events but because it unifies CSAS students.

“Most of the other schools have societies or something (to involve their students) and we don’t really have anything like that,” Kelly said. “I think the listserv is a nice addition.”

Other schools, such as the Elliott School of International Affairs, have similar listservs to inform students about events in the school. ESIA senior Jill Hasegawa said the listserv has been a valuable tool to keep students informed.

“It’s been really good,” Hasegawa said. “I think this is the second year they have had it, and they use it to tell us about events, changes in class offerings, and job announcements that might be of interest.”

The listserv is just one change planned to increase interaction between students and the CSAS office. Earlier this semester, the school hosted a welcome back reception to give students, administrators and faculty a chance to interact.

“We asked that the small departments make sure at least one faculty member attended, the medium departments two and the larger departments have at least three representatives in attendance,” Moreland said.

Moreland said the e-mail system also will inform students of the graduation application interviews, which she said should inform seniors what classes they need to take in order to graduate.

Through the e-mails Moreland said the school will emphasize that all seniors who are planning to graduate next spring should schedule an interview to review their transcripts, check the spelling of names for the Commencement program and diplomas, and make sure they are on track to graduate on time.

Balance sheets will be sent to all students who have declared a major and completed a minimum of 60 credit hours, Moreland said.

Students who declare a major before they complete 60 hours of course work do not receive a balance sheet automatically because they often change their majors. These students must request balance sheets, she said

Lorraine Bryant, CSAS manager of senior advising services, said the school has not implemented an automated system to generate the balance sheets, which list students’ declared majors and minors, and course work students need to graduate.

“It is painful to me to talk to a student in April who says they didn’t realize they needed a certain course in order to graduate, when we could have fixed it if they had come in earlier,” Moreland said.

Seniors often may think they have completed all their requirements when in fact they have not, Moreland said. For example, a student may take two classes in natural sciences to fulfill the natural science requirement. But if the classes were not in the same sequence, then they do not fulfill the requirement.

“It may not necessarily be happy news to a senior, but it is much happier news when they can still sign up to take the other half of the sequence (than if they found out) in March, when they learn they have to take classes in the summer in order to graduate,” Moreland said.

Moreland and Rice said they hope the listserv will inform students about CSAS and its services for students not only on academic issues such as advising but also on programs and speakers the school hosts.

“The school and departments have put on great events in the past that a lot of students were not aware of,” Rice said.

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