Faculty and Staff Advisors Offer Guidance to Student Organizations

Posted: April 2, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Catherine Ferraro

With more than 175 student-led organizations available at Mason, students are able to experience activities in and out of the classroom.

Yet while students develop new organizations or become members of the mathematics, neuroscience and even paintball groups, a faculty or staff advisor is always standing by to offer encouragement.

In fact, to be a recognized club or organization at Mason, all student organizations must have a faculty or staff advisor. An advisor serves the group in a number of ways, including giving direction to the organization when needed, serving as a point of reference and resource and serving as role model for the students.

Advisors’ responsibilities to the organizations vary from group to group and from advisor to advisor. However, they generally include ensuring continuity during changes in leadership, supervising financial records and budgets and providing social activity support and guidance.

“Faculty and staff advisors are there primarily to advise and guide the student organization,” says Sara Morrisroe, assistant director of student organizations in the Office of Student Activities. “How involved an advisor is depends on how active the organization is. Each individual advisor decides how much they would like to commit.”

One of the greatest challenges as a faculty advisor, according to Melissa Martin, assistant professor in the School of Management and faculty advisor to Mason’s student chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA), is knowing how light or heavy a hand to take in shaping the planning process for each semester.

AMA is a marketing and business organization whose mission is to provide a forum for students interested in learning more about the marketing profession, gaining practical marketing experience, enhancing leadership and career development skills and advancing their education outside the classroom.

“My greatest joy as a faculty advisor is getting to know students in more informal settings,” says Martin.

At the same time, she ackowledges being an advisor has some challenges. “I don’t want to curb their enthusiasm, but they tend to set goals that are too lofty and underestimate the time and effort it takes to organize these programs. Sometimes I’m not sure where I should step in.”

The Gathering, one of many religious student organizations at Mason, is a Christian college ministry that meets weekly and offers students worship services, small group communities, service opportunities and global impact mission experiences.

“As the faculty advisor for the ministry, my role is to encourage and support the students. It is great to see the energy and professional leadership capacities that the students bring to the group,” says Meg Brindle, associate professor in the College of Visual and Performing Arts. “I am completely hands-off to that energy, and it makes being a faculty advisor and mentor truly rewarding and definitely more fun than work.”

For more information about Mason’s student organizations, visit the Office of Student Activities web site.

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