Baylor University

Invaluable Advice

Feb. 4, 2005

By Jennifer Alexander


A great opportunity awaits Baylor faculty and staff members who want to become more involved in the Baylor community and in students' lives outside the academic sphere.

Elisa Dunman, director of Student Activities, said several student organizations are seeking faculty advisers to help lead their groups in assisting, sharing ideas with and entertaining the campus advisers to student organizations.

"Advisers are a great part of student organizations," she said. "They help strengthen and shape the students' experience."

Dunman said the number and type of organizations that need advisers varies each semester, but for spring 2005 there are plenty of spaces available.

According to the Student Handbook and the Office of Student Activities, faculty and staff advisers are required for every chartered student group. Advisers interpret regulations and policies and provide leadership for the group, as well as encourage student leaders to get necessary permission for hosting activities and publicizing those activities.

Student leaders look to advisers for approval for all activities they wish to sponsor or share with the campus, and each group must have a member who keeps advisers notified of meetings and other scheduled events.

Jane Smith, assistant for degree plans in the dean's office of the School of Education, has served as general adviser for Zeta Tau Alpha sorority for eight-and-a-half years. Together with four faculty advisers, Smith attends chapter meetings and chaperones off-campus functions, among other duties. The five help each other alleviate the burden of attending weekly and monthly events by trading duties, and Smith said alumnae also will often volunteer to co-chaperone functions.

Dunman said the amount of direction an adviser offers often depends on the focus of the organization. Some academic groups may require more guidance from an adviser experienced in that field of study.

"Working at Baylor, by its nature, means you interact with students," Smith said. "Being an adviser to a student organization gives you insight into a very personal aspect of their college experience, and it is amazing."

Smith said when the group's best-laid plans "go awry and I wonder why I keep doing this, I receive that unexpected hug or card or e-mail that says 'thanks so much for all you do, we are so lucky to have you' and I am immediately refreshed."

Smith said she encourages anyone who is considering the role of adviser to do so, as the emotional reward more than makes up for the time and effort.

"It's a great experience for students, faculty and staff from both perspectives," Dunman said. "We want to encourage the participation of both students and faculty, and to let them know that we can be a resource for them."

Dunman said faculty and staff members who have a desire to be an adviser can contact Student Activities at ext. 7240.

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