Division of Undergraduate Studies logo with the Penn State mark

2014-15 Annual Report

From the Associate Dean for Advising and Executive Director

Our mission in the Division of Undergraduate Studies directly reflects the importance of engaging students in conversations about the reasons they are in college and the broader purposes and implications of higher education. As our students work with their advisers to understand these concepts and articulate responses, they also learn to make vital connections between their interests and strengths and the University’s academic opportunities. Ultimately they are better able to make informed decisions about what they want to study, how to manage the challenges and opportunities of a college experience, and what will be important to them in future life endeavors.

Associate Dean for Advising and Executive Director David Smith
David R. Smith
From the first contact with exploratory students, the University correctly assures them that “undecided” does not mean “unfocused.” It means being open to the exciting opportunities that Penn State’s twelve academic colleges and twenty undergraduate campuses can offer. Within that framework, the Division of Undergraduate Studies gives students access to academic programs that reflect their interests and nurture their talents and abilities and provides an academic adviser to guide them through the possibilities.

I am proud of this work and the important relationships our advisers develop with students to ensure they receive the information and guidance they need to become stewards of their own college experiences and managers of their goals.

Along with facilitating critical academic advising conversations across the Penn State system, DUS staff members continued this past year to be instrumental in advancing University programs that impacted General Education, engaged scholarship, new tools, improved processes, and emerging technologies. Most recently, advising and support staff efforts in the division contributed to such milestones as ALEKS adaptive mathematics placement testing, the LionPATH ISIS replacement project, the Starfish Enterprise Success Platform, and General Education curricular enhancements. These initiatives showcase the division’s critical role in informing the University’s academic information infrastructure and leading the development of advising policies and practices.

Our staff members invest full days, every day, to ensure our students, as well as any undergraduate seeking guidance, are afforded opportunities to learn how to navigate this large institution, plan fulfilling degree programs, address and resolve academic difficulties, and engage in interesting co-curricular experiences.  

I am grateful for the division’s extraordinary commitment and expertise and thank each DUS team member for the accomplishments listed in this report. I am looking forward to the work we will share as we look to the future together, take next steps, and welcome new opportunities.


Signature of David Smith

David Smith