Leave of Absence Policy and Procedures
Angela Bowlus, Policy and Practices Group, Co-Chair
The Undergraduate Policy Group meets regularly to discuss how University policy is implemented and applied to advising practices. Currently, the group is discussing the procedures surrounding the Leave of Absence (LOA) policy. The group acknowledged that the LOA policy has been inconsistently applied across colleges and that there were multiple interpretations of what a LOA should be used for. Therefore, the group is developing recommended guidelines around when a student should be on LOA and when LOA is not appropriate. Along with these guidelines, the group is discussing best practices for PeopleSoft entry and APLUS tags and Warnings. The group is also recommending changes to the LOA form (which will be moved to the Advising Toolkit), and to the Withdrawing from the University Checklist, in addition to creating a web page on One Stop dedicated to LOA. The group hopes to wrap up its LOA conversations by the end of July with a new form, guidelines, and webpages rolling out to staff by the beginning of August. Looking beyond LOA, the group then hopes to discuss the Readmission process and form, especially as it connects back to LOA.
Questions and suggestions can be directed to Angela Bowlus, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over the past month, the APLUS Advisory Committee has focused on the changes described below.
- T grades - Sometimes transfer courses are entered into APAS with a letter grade of 'T' rather than a standard A-F or S-N grade. In these cases, users were having trouble distinguishing between courses with passing grades and courses with failing grades. We've updated the courses tab to include all grades from the originating institution for courses transferred in with a T grade. For example, if a student earns a C+ for CSCI101 from an institution and it transfers in as a T grade, the system will now show the grade as 'T (C+)' with the color coding for a 'C+' grade.
- Writing placement - The first-year writing placement information that used to be pulled from the old placement testing system is now built into APLUS itself. The logic is a function of available ACT English (or SAT Verbal), ACT/SAT writing subscores, and high school English grades, which is essentially a replication of what was in the old placement testing system, albeit with adjustments to address the ACT writing test changes in September 2015.
- Administrative section update - We decided to spend a little more time updating the administrative section of APLUS, and not just the new tags/contact purposes section, in order to improve the experience for those with coordinator access. We expect this update to roll out in July.
- Updates to GMail module post-deployment - Several users reported that APLUS email options were not displayed upon entering a student email address in the "To" field or when replying an email. We've changed this so now if your email preferences are set to load APLUS options, the system will detect if the recipient is a student and automatically load the email options. We also fixed an issue where some signatures were recorded with double line spacing. Lastly, we added an option to show/hide message snippets in your mailbox; you can find this setting in the upper-right corner (gears icon) of your email list.
LeeAnn Melin, Office of Undergraduate Education
Progress continues to be made on the task force recommendations with a few highlights below.
- The Advising Steering Committee (ASC) is up and running! The group of advising leaders has a retreat planned for August to establish a strong foundation and set priorities.
- Exciting news! New advising positions have been created in CLA, CDes, CEHD, CFANS and CSE. These added positions help to bring the advisor-to-student ratio closer to the 1:250-300 target.
- Conversations continue with the Office of Human Resources, OUE and ASC to address issues relating to advisor classification, promotion, and equity.
- We are in the beginning stages of creating a campus-wide advising webpage for both students and faculty/staff. The goal is to provide a general overview of advising at UMTC for students and a central location for advising information and resources for advisors. A small group of advisors will be convened to guide the development.
- Efforts to improve communication and coordination across campus continue. The Advising Update is one example along with efforts to map out advising stakeholders and related committees. Watch for more information in the coming months.
Thanks to everyone for the great effort and strong collaboration across campus to enhance the advising experience.
Essential Training Components
Mark Bultmann, Office of Undergraduate Education
One of the guiding resources for revamping the content of advisor training will be the work of Wes Habley (1987) and Jeffrey McClellan (2007). Habley has been a national leader in advising and advisor development. In his early work, he suggested effective training needed to be built around three essential components, the Conceptual, Informational and Relational. McClellan later advocated for adding the Technological and Personal components, and those have been widely accepted. As the training initiative is launched these components, detailed below, will be regular touchstones for content and focus.
- Conceptual: Understanding the context within which advisors work
- Informational: Knowledge that advisors need to do their work
- Relational: Competencies to establish appropriate and effective connections with students
- Technological: Ability to effectively use advising technology and tools
- Personal: Advisor self-awareness and professional growth
UMTC training activities have often had a heavy focus on the Informational component. While our large, complex campus requires advisors command a lot of information, the Relational component and Conceptual component are essential also elements in building productive connections with students. The Technological component has quickly emerged as another essential skill for advisors, and the Personal component speaks to the importance of professional and personal growth for advisors. The image below represents the work of Habley and McClellan.