April 2011

Meeting Date: 
April 6, 2011

8:15     Breakfast & Social Time  (Sponsored by Undergraduate Studies – Thank you!)

8:30     Welcome

8:35     Dr. Gretchen Ritter, Vice Provost

Dr. Ritter shared that feedback from student surveys state an academic advisor helped them determine their major or feel comfortable, which in turn encouraged their decision to stay at UT Austin to complete their academic goals. Dr. Ritter continued and answered questions from the membership that Andi Poag gave her in advance:

  1. This year, ACA has been represented on several committees on campus (Provost’s Council, Student Deans, Revision of Student Records, Committee for Academic Support Programs, Educational Policy Committee, etc.) how do you feel our prospective has contributed to the conversations and planning taking place in these committees?
  • Dr. Ritter feels ACA’s participation in these committees helps a lot. She feels advisors identify bottlenecks and issues students face that administrators may not know.
  1. As the climate of The University’s budget remains unstable, what are the priorities of the Provost’s Office? Are there specific certainties about positions or academic initiatives that will remain financially supported, no matter what budget is decided upon at the end of this legislative session?
  • Dr. Ritter explained the Provost’s priorities remain on The University’s core efforts: Education and Research, no matter what the legislature decides. She explained that budgets are planned with various scenarios: flat budget (no further cuts) or 10% cut, etc. She also shared that efforts are being made to use technology for appropriate tasks whenever possible in order to free up staff talents for more impactful work. Examples of processes technology could complete are scheduling and forms commonly processed by staff. Having these processes automated allows advisors to focus on developmental interactions with students.
  • Dr. Ritter is leading an effort to incorporate educational technology to help students succeed and not allow bigger class sizes.
  • New Initiatives that are in the works (iTunes U, Early Warning System, Degree Progress System, etc).  A group presented last meeting about the Early Warning System.  Dr. Ritter is very excited about the Early Warning System and views it as a supplement to BlackBoard. She believes it will prompt communication between the professor/instructor and student earlier in the semester than what may be happening now.  Dr. Ritter believes more online tools could allow students to take care of academic issues when they think of them, not just during our business hours. She is interested in making complicated degree plans simpler to navigate and understand through the use of degree planning tools.

             3.  Change in number of advising positions on this campus?

  • There is no discussion of a change in the number of advisors on campus.

4.  Change in the role of the academic advisors on this campus (perhaps due to the potential consolidation of positions due to budget shortage)?

  • Dr. Ritter explained that she is aware of the large caseloads that advisors have and would like to ease the work that advisors complete, outside of their advising appointments so that they may devote time and energy as possible to meeting with students. She believes advisors’ developmental interactions with students can contribute to their enjoyment of their educational experience which can lead to higher graduation rates.
  1. Change in the staff education benefit (she emailed me and said this wasn’t something she had any information about)?
  • Dr. Ritter suggested we inquire about this to UT HR.


  1. Recent Achievements around campus:
  • OTE (waiting approval of EDC):  Dr. Ritter explained that lawyers determined the colleges were out of line with the catalog. She had discussions with the colleges about their philosophy and standards on this. Currently Ed Policy committee needs to meet in order to advance this policy.
  • Increased consistency across colleges on campus:  Dr. Ritter would like policies that allow for colleges to make individual decisions. She also explained increased consistency from the Registrar’s Office would be ideal.

Questions from membership:

  1. Any plans for early retirement incentives for staff? Dr. Ritter is not aware of any and suggested inquiring about this to UT HR.
  2. Any thoughts or plans for University-wide advising training and advisor reward programs? Dr. Ritter discussed pro’s and con’s to University-wide training and reward programs. She realizes inconsistency with hiring across campus creates staff poaching/stealing amongst colleges.  She is involved in an initiative to connect academic support programs around campus. She feels support programs attached to academic units are most successful.
  • David Spight explained a survey was created last year to obtain feedback from students in each college to understand what academic advising resources they need. It was put on hold for other surveys (SERU) and will be sent sometime this year.
  • Liz Hastings shared that ACA ROAD committee is a grassroots training effort and asked if UT would consider creating this for everyone?
  • David Spight explained that UGS has an advisor resource room available to all academic advisors on campus to utilize. UGS has also invited advisors from smaller schools to participate in their new hire advisor training they have facilitated.
  • ACA member stated it would be helpful if advisors were allowed to attend meetings and trainings that provide professional development opportunities.
  • Dr. Ritter asked for a group of ACA members to give her a better idea of what advisors are involved in.


9:10     Undergraduate Studies Updates

  • David Spight, Center for Strategic Advising, shared that 700 UGS students have declared majors and been admitted to them! Only 12 of those students have changed their major since.
  • JP Regalado, Longhorn Scholars, shared that 1st and 2nd year students who meet program requirements get priority registration. 30 first year students are not eligible for priority registration because they have not followed program requirements. JP can send a list of LHS students to each college if requested. Students can come in after the 18th if our advising calendars are booked and they are not able to meet with us before the 18th. Since January, all LHS students were told to get academic advising with their college advisor prior to registration beginning.
  • Patty Micks, Signature Courses, introduced the FIG office staff members and explained there are 100’s of signature courses being offered this summer for students to register for. She brought a handout with signature course FAQ’s and advised us to instruct students to call the Signature Course office and not UGS in order to request assistance registering for the course. Patty is aware the phone lines are often times busy, during registration, but encouraged students to continue calling during or after their first registration access period. Patty explained they are in the process of adding more phone lines to this office in order to improve the response to the calls. She will update us about FIG registration details at the May ACA meeting. Patty encouraged any advisor in immediate need of assistance with signature courses to call her directly.
  • Jen Morgan, Core Petitions, followed up after David Spight began discussing core petitions.  Jen arrived to finish the update. Students can pick up core petitions and turn them in to the UGS advising office in FAC. A syllabus must be attached to each petition submitted and there is no guarantee a petition will be approved, even if another student has previously had a similar petition approved. It is ideal to attach a syllabus for the semester in which the student was enrolled in the course. If the student has completed at least 60 hours counting toward the degree prior to leaving and their catalog has expired, they may be eligible to request a waiver of their required UGS course.
    • Please do NOT change any core rules in the IDA program. Request assistance with core rule adjustments from Jenn Morgan.
    • GOV 3US still counts towards the core. Out of state students may need GOV 105.The signature course will not be waived for students who change schools and thus change catalogs and need a signature course. These students made a conscious decision to change schools.
  • Dr. Jeanette Herman, Flags Update, explained that she is working with all colleges and schools to determine what flags are required. Many schools are increasing their flag requirements. Soon, she will send an invitation to ACA members requesting the participation of advisors in focus groups. Focus groups are being formed to learn more about advisors’ needs regarding the flags.
    • A question from the membership was about the difference between a writing flag and writing component. Jeanette explained catalogs dictate what students need (i.e.- writing flag or writing component). The writing flags have a standard across all colleges, unlike the page number requirement writing components have.
    • A question from the membership asked if there are syllabus auditing practices for the writing flags. Jeanette explained there are auditing practices. Writing flag syllabi are being checked against the syllabi that were submitted and approved.
    • A question from the membership asked if UT Extension courses have flags? Jeanette explained she is working on this now. Currently there no extension courses with flags, however, eventually there probably will be some offered.
    • Jeanette announced that Research Week is starting! Check the online calendar for details.

9:40     Registration Announcements

  • Question from the membership inquired about what university-wide committees ACA is currently involved in. Dr. Ritter made mention of ACA’s representation on these committees and the member is unaware of what the committees are and curious what is happening in the committee meetings.  Andi Poag listed the 7 committees ACA officers participate in, representing ACA, and report information back to the ACA membership when there is information to be shared. Andi will send a summary out to update members on all committee progress.  Andrea Chytil stated all committee updates are shared at the end of the meeting, during announcements. Andrea explained that as the minute-taker for the meetings, she can recall updates Andi has given regularly.
  • Theresa Thomas- Summer Courses Initiative:  Theresa has been compiling a list of special circumstances for summer initiatives. She has information from specific service departments, as well. She will send this out after the meeting to the ACA listserv and welcomes updates.
  • Regina Hughes- Business Foundations Program: Regina explained the BFP summer courses are perfectly sequenced so that all BFP courses can be completed during summer I and summer II. Regina explained there is an incorrect pre-requisite listed for the FIN 320F course. It states ACC 310F and ACC 311 and 312 are required. This is incorrect! It should read: ACC 310F or ACC 311 and ACC 312.  Regina apologized for this misprint and explained waivers are being input to assist the students with registration. ECO and STA courses can be completed after the student takes the BFP courses. These courses need to be complete before the student receives their BFP certificate.  Regina also thanked the ACA membership for their assistance in discussing the BFP Halliburton program with students. The enrollment for summer 2011 is 98! This is the highest enrollment, yet.
  • Lois Kim- UT Extension:  Lois explained that UT Extension offices moved to I-35 & Dean Keeton in the development building. The testing center will move there soon. The course system preview has been updated to allow students to view the preview mode sooner and help their planning. Any questions regarding approved testing center locations should be directed to UT Extension.  Lois announced that RHE 317 will no longer be offered.

Other Announcements

  • Registrar: Announcement regarding the 505 forms: they will be online in September 2011.
  • Andrea Chytil announced that 2011-2012 ACA Officer Elections will take place after the May ACA meeting and officer nominations are now being accepted!If you are interested in applying for an officer position or want to nominate someone, email Andrea Chytil and submit your nomination. Nominations will be accepted up until the conclusion of the candidate speeches at the May 10th ACA meeting.

10:00     Meeting Adjourned


May 10     **ACA Monthly Meeting (1:00-3:00** WEL 3.502) Please note afternoon time!!!

June 16     ACA Monthly Meeting (8:15-10:00, Room TBA)