PSU expands professional advising staff to improve student success
Author: Suzanne Pardington, University Communications
Posted: July 26, 2010


(Portland, Ore.) July 26, 2010 – Portland State University is doubling its professional advising staff this fall to help students successfully navigate the large urban campus. 

The University is hiring 14 more advisers in a push to improve retention rates by giving students more academic support from the moment they arrive on campus for orientation.  

"We are doing this because we want to make sure that students don't just get to PSU, but that they get out with a degree in a reasonable amount of time,” said PSU President Wim Wiewel. “We believe in accountability and performance, not just good efforts. This will improve our students’ performance while freeing up faculty to do the teaching and research they do best"

PSU plans to spend about $1 million to hire, train and support the new advisers, who will be housed in the schools and colleges. Other steps to improve student success include making orientation mandatory for new students, requiring first-year students to meet with an academic adviser, and requiring all students to declare a major by the end of their second year.

“We absolutely have to be more intentional with the advising of students,” said Dan Fortmiller, Associate Vice Provost for Academic & Career Services. “They need to have clear pathways, and they need to have people to guide them along those pathways. This is the first step in that direction.” 

In the past, PSU has relied heavily on faculty members to advise students, Fortmiller said. But research by PSU Professors Cathleen Smith and Janine Allen shows that students are more satisfied when they also have access to professional advisers. Smith and Allen believe that’s because professional advisers’ sole responsibility is to provide academic advising, making them more likely to have the time to be accessible to students, stay abreast of campus policies and resources, and get to know more students. 

PSU’s new advisers will have master’s degrees and prior experience working in higher education. They will be trained to work with faculty to advise students on the full range of academic and student affairs issues, from registering for classes to applying for financial aid. 

About Portland State University

Portland State University (PSU) serves as a center of opportunity for over 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Located in Portland, Oregon, one of the nation’s most livable cities, the University’s innovative approach to education combines academic rigor in the classroom with field-based experiences through internships and classroom projects with community partners. The University’s 49-acre downtown campus exhibits Portland State’s commitment to sustainability with green buildings, while many of the 125 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees incorporate sustainability into the curriculum. PSU’s motto, “Let Knowledge Serve the City,” inspires the teaching and research of an accomplished faculty whose work and students span the globe.