The Advisor's Role
Each club or organization is required to have an advisor who is a full-time member of the WPI faculty, staff, or administration. The role of the advisor is to help the group meet its stated goals. The advisor should review the club or organization's constitution in order to clearly understand its purpose and determine how s/he can best assist the group. In addition, the officers of the club or organization should discuss their specific roles and responsibilities with the advisor, including such topics as:
- Will the advisor attend all club or organization meetings?
- Will the advisor meet separately with the officers to discuss issues between regular meetings?
- Will the advisor be consulted regarding agenda items?
- Should the advisor evaluate the meeting with the president?
- 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 club or organization find financial resources or meeting space?
- What is the role of the advisor in determining the purposes of the club or organization or its objectives for the year?
- Is the advisor expected to help with programming? Is the advisor expected to attend all programs?
- Is the advisor expected to help resolve problems in the club or organization or mediate personality conflicts?
- 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?
- Is the advisor expected to maintain records for the club or organization?
- Is the advisor expected to provide administrative support for the club or organization (e.g., mailings, handling or negotiating contracts with outside persons, making reservations, etc.)?
Please note that none of these responsibilities is implied for the advisor; the above is simply intended to highlight some of the common advisor and officer responsibilities. The most important aspect of the advising relationship is that of mutual agreement about the advisor’s role. This agreement cannot be assumed—it must be discussed and negotiated.
Guidelines for Advisors at WPI
- Be informed of the purpose and programs of the club or organization
- Assist the club or organization in its attempt to fulfill its goals
- Attend meetings and events scheduled and/or sponsored by the club or organization
- Discuss and clarify your role as the advisor with the club or organization to avoid misunderstandings about your responsibilities
- Maintain familiarity with the policies and procedures of WPI
- Be available to the club or organization’s officers on a regular basis
- Be reasonably available to members to advise and assist in organizational issues or problems
- Provide advice on proper procedures to avoid conduct that would discredit WPI or the club or 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 club or organization and the university, specifically the Student Activities Office
- Recognize the abilities and limitations of the 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.