Beginning in January, the second floor of the University of Virginia’s Clemons Library will be transformed into an advising center with academic, professional and personal advising resources available in one central location for students.
Plans for the new advising center emerged as part of UVA’s “total advising” initiative outlined in President Teresa A. Sullivan’s strategic plan, which calls for an integrated approach to academic, career and personal counseling. Years of survey data indicated advising as a primary concern for students, and subsequent student forums and working groups helped crystallize plans for the new center in Clemons, scheduled to be complete in January 2017.
“Through total advising, we bring a comprehensive, holistic approach to advising our students, as we envisioned in the Cornerstone Plan,” Sullivan said. “With the creation of the new advising center, students will soon have a centrally located source for information and counseling related to internships, careers, study abroad and other issues.”
Located in the heart of Grounds, the new advising center will serve as a central point of access to the spectrum of student services already offered at UVA. Representatives from an array of departments and programs will hold regular office hours in the center, providing services such as one-on-one career counseling and internship search assistance, assistance with financial services, consultation about study-abroad experiences or suggestions for pursuing undergraduate research. The center will also expand tutoring currently provided by the Writing Center and the Math Center and add additional academic support services.
Complementing the center in Clemons, the University is also in the early stages of planning a new student space on the Corner, in the building that formerly housed the Student Bookstore. That space will provide adaptable meeting areas that could be used for student rehearsals, performances and gatherings, especially in the evenings, and for career advising, wellness and other programs during the day.
“We want to provide a highly visible, easily accessible space that has multiple characters, reflecting a unique combination of uses that would relate holistically to students’ needs,” Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Christina Morell said of the Corner space.
Both the Clemons center and the Corner space will be designed to bring together many resources in central locations, with different groups across Ground rotating usage to best suit student needs.
“What emerged from our work with students and staff was a ‘hoteling’ concept – a space that has offices and meeting areas with a lot of flexibility and many partners spending time there in varying degrees,” Maurie McInnis, vice provost for academic affairs, said.
“We wanted to build a model that allows us to move people in and out of the center according to student needs, so that the right resources are available at the right times,” said Archie Holmes, vice provost for educational innovation and interdisciplinary studies.
Holmes and McInnis led a steering committee that consulted students throughout the planning and design of the advising center, working with different groups to understand what services and design elements would be most useful. They will continue to solicit student input as they finalize the center’s design and select furniture, finishes and other design elements.
The result is an open and versatile space, with private, semi-private and public areas that will easily adapt to multiple uses, from one-on-one consultations to larger meeting spaces for workshops with partners such as the Center for Undergraduate Excellence or the Contemplative Sciences Center.
The advising center is the latest among many advising initiatives sparked by the Cornerstone Plan. College Advising Seminars – small, semester-long courses that combine advising and academics – have proven extremely popular in the College of Arts & Sciences, with similar programs being developed in other schools. Additionally, new programs in the UVA Career Center, such as the UVA Internship Center, the Virginia Alumni Mentoring program and new career communities, have bolstered career-advising opportunities from when students arrive on Grounds through graduation and beyond.