Division of Undergraduate Studies logo with the Penn State mark

2013-14 Annual Report

From the Associate Dean for Advising and Executive Director

Associate Dean for Advising and Executive Director David Smith
David R. Smith
Having completed my first year as Associate Dean for Advising and Executive Director of the Division of Undergraduate Studies, I am very impressed with the work that our staff accomplishes on a daily basis.  It is incredibly rewarding to be part of an organization that continuously takes great care to ensure that undergraduates are supported and encouraged in their efforts to identify and develop meaningful academic plans.  From the commitment to one-on-one advising to building effective electronic tools to a range of behind-the-scenes support efforts, DUS plays a comprehensive role in helping undergraduates across Penn State succeed.  Though our enrollment numbers continue to grow, approaching the 4,000 mark at University Park campus alone, we remain dedicated to our core mission of ensuring access to high quality academic advising that engages students and challenges them to take ownership of their education.

While national debates continue to surface about the value and meaning of higher education, our work in helping exploratory students identify appropriate academic goals reveals that approximately 95 percent of our students graduate from the college they entered immediately after leaving DUS. By providing students with both the opportunity for ongoing conversations about their academic goals and access to effective electronic tools for evaluating the varied academic programs at Penn State, we are building within the Division of Undergraduate Studies a commitment to engaging students in active conversations about how to shape a meaningful education at Penn State. Beyond our direct work with individual students, we also are engaging the wider Penn State community in discussions about the value of academic advising as a defining element of the undergraduate experience.

The need to provide students with consistent and accurate information to make informed decisions serves as a key element of our work. During the fall 2013 semester, we had more than 6,000 student appointments in Grange Building alone. This volume speaks to the demand and complexity of our work. Adjacent to the ongoing conversations that we are fostering with students, our staff works tirelessly to provide access to a wealth of online information. Access to accurate information, along with helping students frame the questions they need to ask about their education, serve as core initiatives within the Division of Undergraduate Studies.

Our annual report provides a broad overview of the Division and underscores the work that our staff contributes to promoting a positive learning environment for all students.  Although we have had several wonderful individuals move onto new opportunities, we continue to recruit very talented and dedicated professionals who will grow with the Division of Undergraduate Studies as it further enhances the undergraduate experience at Penn State.  The coming year will present many opportunities for further growth and development in DUS.  We particularly look forward to the arrival of a new student data system (LionPATH), promising reforms to General Education, and broader support for student engagement.  Our challenge remains the drive to turn students into active learners who are committed to excellence, self-authorship, and who are proud of their academic choices at Penn State. 


Signature of David Smith

David Smith