‘Discover Your UVA’: The Future of Student Advising Is Taking Shape

September 21, 2023 By Jane Kelly, jak4g@virginia.edu Jane Kelly, jak4g@virginia.edu

The University of Virginia has entered a new phase of “holistic” student advising to ensure every undergraduate student is in the best position possible to take advantage of all the school has to offer.

Last week, University leaders briefed the Board of Visitors on the accomplishments in the last year based on recommendations from UVA’s Advising Task Force. The group was charged with assessing current systems of support to “ensure that students receive the advising and support they need to thrive on Grounds and beyond,” a goal laid out in President Jim Ryan’s “Great and Good” 2030 strategic plan.

“Good advising is holistic advising,” Brie Gertler, vice provost for academic affairs, told the board during a Sept. 13 session.

“As you know, UVA has very high retention rates and we have wonderful graduation rates and we are rightly very proud of those,” she said. “But of course, we want more for our students than simply graduating. We want every student to be able to take advantage of all that UVA has to offer.”

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Katie Densberger, UVA’s director of academic student support, told the board about new ways UVA is using technology to support advising. She introduced a new “front door” to the University for students, one based on a task force recommendation to develop better ways of sharing information.

Densberger said “Discover Your UVA,” a new student resources site, does just that. It’s a one-stop shop for students and families that features a guide for new students, lists available student services by school, provides a holistic self-care guide, and compiles leadership and service opportunities. In another advance, a chatbot has been added to the newly streamlined academic advising site to answer questions and point students in the right direction to learn more.

Starting in fall 2024, she said all of UVA’s undergraduate students will begin using a dynamic new course planning tool on an advising platform called Stellic. “We’re a year or so out from giving our students some new tools that can keep up with their ambitions and help them chase some new ones,” she said.

Brie Gertler headshot

Brie Gertler, vice provost for academic affairs, spoke about undergraduate student advising at last week’s meeting of the Board of Visitors. (Photo by Dan Addison, University Communications)

In its 2022 report, the Advising Task Force also recommended incoming students participate in a first-year experience that connects them to resources and helps them to build relationships across Grounds.

This year, Housing and Residence Life piloted a new academic pilot program for first-year students called Hoos@Home in a collection of dorms. The program features weekly academic and career advising sessions, casual faculty lunches and book clubs. Gertler said the pilot includes 750 first-year students. If an assessment finds the program has been successful, it will be expanded next year.

Media Contact

Jane Kelly

University News Senior Associate Office of University Communications