The Advisor's Role

Each organization is required to have an advisor who is a full-time member of the WPI faculty, staff or administration. The advisor is needed to help the group meet its stated goals. The first step for any advisor is to review the organization's constitution in order to clearly understand the group's purpose; knowing this will help the advisor determine how s/he can best assist the group. The officers of the organization should meet with the advisor to discuss their specific roles and responsibilities. Topics to be discussed should include:

Meetings

  • Will the advisor attend all meetings of the organization?
  • Will the advisor meet separately with the officers to discuss issues between regular meetings?
  • Will the advisor be consulted regarding agenda items or meeting planning?
  • Should the advisor evaluate the meeting with the president?

Planning

  • Do officers expect the advisor to assist with activity and meeting planning?
  • Should the advisor be expected to know campus policies and procedures?
  • Will the advisor be expected to help the group find financial resources or meeting space?
  • What is the role of the advisor in determining the purposes of the group or objectives for the year?

Programs

  • Is the advisor expected to help with programming?
  • Is the advisor expected to attend all programs?

Problems

  • Is the advisor expected to help resolve problems in the group or mediate personality conflicts?

Training

  • Is the advisor expected to train officers in their roles?
  • Do officers expect the advisor to provide feedback regarding their leadership?
  • If yes, how should this be done?

Administrative

  • Is the advisor expected to maintain records for the group?
  • Is the advisor expected to provide administrative support for the new group (such as getting things typed or mailed, handling contracts or negotiating contracts with outside persons, making reservations, etc.)?

Please note that none of these responsibilities are implied for the advisor; the above list is simply intended to highlight some of the common issues of advisor/officer responsibilities. The most important aspect of the advising relationship is that of mutual agreement about the role of the advisor. This agreement cannot be assumed -- it must be discussed and negotiated.

Some Specific Guidelines for Advisors at WPI

  • Be informed of the purpose and programs of the organization.
  • Assist the organization in its attempt to fulfill its goals.
  • Attend meetings and events scheduled/sponsored by the organization.
  • Discuss and clarify your role as the advisor with group members to avoid problems due to misunderstandings regarding roles and responsibilities.
  • Maintain familiarity with the policies and procedures of WPI.
  • Be available to club officers of the organizations on a regular basis.
  • Be reasonably available to members to advise and assist in organizational issues or problems.
  • Provide advice and counsel on proper procedures and guidance to avoid conduct that would discredit WPI or the organization.
  • Encourage members to gain useful and valuable experience from their participation in activities, but not at the expense of their academic responsibilities.
  • Encourage dialogue between the organization and the College (specifically the Student Activities Office). Recognize the limitations and abilities of students and yourself.

The above is adapted from "Organization Advisor Manual," California State Polytechnic University, and "The Beacon: A Guide for Student Leaders Organization Advisors," Middlesex Community College.

 
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