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Campus News
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
Current Issue: January 21, 2003
Volume 38, Number 12

UNM improves BUS program advisement at main, branch campuses

By Laurie Mellas-Ramirez

BUS Advisement Supervisor Tracy Skipp, right, and University College Associate Dean Mark Ondrias designed tools to improve advisement.Faculty is the proverbial cog in the wheel for traditional colleges at UNM. But for the Bachelor of University Studies (BUS) Degree Program, advisors gear up to maintain momentum.

BUS advisement is new and improved with tools added such as a Website, video, seminars, CD-ROM, written guide and handouts to provide consistent information to current and prospective students.

A third advisor has been added to the growing main campus program – currently 1,500 strong – and another two hired at branches to serve students in Taos, Los Alamos, Santa Fe and Gallup.

“In the last year we’ve had tremendous innovation and change in both the scope and practice of advisement for our program,” said BUS Advisement Supervisor Tracy Skipp.

The BUS degree is among the most popular at UNM because it allows students to create a personalized program of study, says University College Dean Peter White.

The majority of students focus on several disciplines within the College of Arts and Sciences while others include courses from two or more traditional colleges. For example, if a student chooses to concentrate in cultural studies, he or she may focus on elements that define culture such as education, law, religion, language, geography, the arts and sciences.

“If you’re a go-getter, self-starter and not afraid of organizing your own life, it’s a good degree for you,” said University College Associate Dean Mark Ondrias.

Although the BUS is a main campus degree offering, the Extended University continues to add courses at branches and other locations that apply. Handouts have been created to address specific needs for students at each branch campus.

“There shouldn’t be a reason anymore that anyone who lives in New Mexico can’t get a relevant education from UNM,” Skipp said.

Prior to the improvements, students could wait several months for an initial appointment with Skipp. Now, along with the additional advisors, a new video is available for students simply pondering the question “Is the BUS right for me?” And a new seminar takes “advisement out of my office and into their classrooms,” Skipp said, noting that the ability to speak to 50 or more students at a pop frees up time to reach more students.

“Also, if someone is too shy to ask a question from an advisor – and someone else in the group poses it – everyone benefits from the answer,” Skipp said. “Sharing ideas is the creative heart of the program.”

The BUS Website will be upgraded to provide interactive advisement and in-depth information on admission, graduation requirements, career plans and more.

The new advisement guide – several years in the making – is structured in a workbook style to encourage participation in exercises such as designing a degree plan.

Each advisor, especially those at the branch campuses, will receive an updated CD-ROM each year so information dispersed to students remains consistent and fresh.

Ondrias, also a chemistry professor, has a longstanding interest in the design of new teaching methods and career and academic counseling for students.

“We’re hoping that with these changes we can help students package an academic career that helps them be a lot more employable and specifically trained,” Ondrias said.

“The BUS is the degree of the future. It’s an individualized degree that provides the education a student needs to succeed professionally,” Skipp said. “Students are more likely to see the interdisciplinary connections between their courses, UNM’s many academic departments and their own career plans. The program has so much potential. I can’t wait for it to really take off.”

For information, call 277-2631 or visit www.unm.edu/busdegree.