Student Services: Designing an Integrated Experience

By Mel Bernstein, Dean of Arts, Sciences and Engineering and Kristine E. Dillon, Dean of Academic Services and Student Affairs

Mel Bernstein and Kristine E. Dillon

Enormous cultural changes of the late-twentieth-century define the students entering Tufts in the new century. Busy and structured lives, pressures on families despite a period of unprecedented economic prosperity, the information revolution-these are only some of the contributing factors. One thing has not changed: as in prior years, Tufts students form an outstanding leadership group who have high expectations about their four years at Tufts. How are we responding? At Tufts, and within the Arts, Sciences and Engineering community, we remain convinced that we've "gotten it right." Our educational and student service philosophy is to prepare, in the best possible manner, graduates confident of dealing with an uncertain and changing environment, able to take on leadership roles and navigate the challenges of their chosen fields. We can assure this by personalizing and shaping our students' academic experience, both within and outside the classroom, laboratory and studio. Today, Tufts is providing students with integrated services, with creative choices and with programs that focus university resources on individual needs with appropriate flexibility.

In June 2000, we took a major step to strengthen this effort: student services at Tufts was intentionally placed largely under one roof in the new Dowling Hall to consolidate services through collaboration among academic-support and student-life professionals. Tufts has already been recognized nationally as an IBM Best Practice Partner for the development of this student-services program. Through improved communication and cross-functional planning, we now increasingly can provide a well-marked path, pointing students to our rich array of resources.

We are certain of the success of this new venture in student services because it builds on our strengths-our commitment to teaching excellence and strong faculty-student advising. Our young people come from many backgrounds and all bring a huge range of life experiences to their study and other activities while on campus or in study abroad programs. Our mission has never been more challenging. Why? The world demands more of young people than ever before. Thus, Tufts' ability to prepare students for lifelong learning and productive careers, and to be citizens of the world, is the true measure of our success. To deepen this effort, Tufts also recently established Class Teams, a student services initiative that sets a precedent at universities generally. Composed of a class dean, a career services counselor and a student- life professional, each of five teams will ensure a strong comprehensive advising process for students throughout the four undergraduate years at Tufts as well as at the graduate level. By actively linking with faculty advisors and with student-led and university-wide initiatives, team members will guide the class as a whole, paying special attention to developmental issues associated with each class year and issues that may affect a student's whole experience at Tufts.

Most important, as we help students intentionally tailor their own experience at Tufts, we anticipate at least three positive results: students who fully understand the breadth of opportunity offered within Tufts' huge variety of programs; who are deliberate about the way they deepen their knowledge and experience in chosen areas; and who will experience the strengthening of bonds within their graduating class. Such an integrated student services program will reap real benefits for Tufts students in the present and in their future careers. For example, improved technology underpins the program, speeding indispensable information to students. We can examine student progress over time, enabling us to guide them to fellowship opportunities; support others who are developing a distinctive major; or work collaboratively to find solutions with a student who may be having difficulty completing academic requirements.

Integrated student services also links our alumni to their "new relations," the currently enrolled students. The Career Advisory Network (CAN), a critical tool for Tufts undergraduates, provides a means for alumni to seize the special opportunity to give back to generations of Tufts students to come. A key to the continued vitality of this network is making it as comprehensive as possible, both by field and geography. We welcome new, creative ideas and additional avenues to develop stronger ties between alumni and students, a relationship that can only strengthen Tufts as a valuable asset.

We've presented lofty goals here, but we know that we will attain them. We want students to fulfill their high expectations of a Tufts education and we are here to support them on their journey to become citizens of the world. Alert to changes in our global society and in culture, in business and in education, the student services program at Tufts aims to compound the value of the Tufts experience for each and every student. More important, we expect this comprehensive experience will be firmly woven through the portfolio of skills, knowledge and broadened perspective that the Tufts graduate will be able to carry forward into the future.

Mel Bernstein, Dean of Arts, Sciences and Engineering

Kristine E. Dillon, Dean of Academic Services and Student Affairs







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