Faculty, staff encouraged to advise student groups

November 12, 2012  

Mark Diekman

Mark Diekman, professor of animal sciences, talks with members of the Chauncey Cooperative House during a dinner in November. Diekman has been the faculty advisor for the house for 26 years, working closely with the student residents to help keep the program running. (Purdue University photo/Mark Simons)
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Mark Diekman says he believes his duties as a Purdue professor extend beyond his office and classroom.

Diekman, professor of animal sciences, has been the faculty advisor for Chauncey Cooperative House for 26 years, working closely with the student residents to help keep the program running.

"It's not part of my job description, but to me it is a part of my duty to connect with students outside of the classroom," Diekman says.

Student Activities and Organizations is encouraging full-time faculty and staff members to get involved with any of the 980 student organizations on campus by becoming advisors or guest speakers. SAO is part of the Office of the Dean of Students.

Student organizations range from special interest groups, academic societies, and religious and political organizations to independent living groups, athletic teams and more.

To become involved, faculty must take an online survey at www.getinvolved.purdue.edu/form/start/4243 and log in with career account information. The survey will pair applicants with student organizations based on their shared interests.

Martia Brawner King, assistant dean of students, says the presence of an advisor is necessary for a student organization to officially exist. However, advisors do not take charge of the group.

"Every student organization has to have at least one faculty or staff advisor-- not just someone to act as an authority figure but someone to aid in the development of leaders, to advise, to challenge and to mentor," King says. "Without an advisor, student organizations cannot exist, they cannot live out their mission and purpose and they cannot be a part of the esteemed Purdue culture."

Advisors work to guide student organizations and members, attend meetings and act as confidants in both individual and organization matters.

Rosie Ricci, coordinator of pre-allied health and academic advisor, says advisors are also present to provide guidance with new ideas or challenging situations.

"I had a student once tell me, 'Don't prevent me from falling down. Just help me get back up,'" Ricci says. "I'm there to support them and encourage them to try new things, while also helping to keep them within the boundaries of Purdue's rules and regulations."

Ricci says she makes sure the students get a learning experience by allowing them to make mistakes, but that checks and balances are in place to prevent any large devastation. Similarly, Diekman's long history as an advisor for Chauncey Cooperative House gives him insight on how former cooperative members handled recurring issues; though he allows current members to make $1,000 mistakes, he uses his previous experience to prevent them from making a $10,000 misstep that may jeopardize the future of the house.

Diekman says the pairing of faculty and staff with student groups with similar interests typically leads to a more rewarding relationship for both parties. He also thinks an advisor is more likely to stay longer in the advisor position if they share the same interests as the students.

In addition to becoming involved with their passions, Ricci -- whose office is covered with gifts and memorabilia from students she's worked with -- says faculty and staff will benefit from the connections they make with students.

"You're going to build relationships with students and truly make a difference to them, too," Ricci says. "In the end, you're going to get more out of the experience than what you give."

Call 49-41231 or email sao@purdue.edu for any questions or concerns.

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