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California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

Academic services faces understaffing, implements new IDEAS curriculum

Infographic by Parker Smith — Digital and Multimedia Editor
The new IDEAS curriculum stands for Inquire, Develop, Experience, Apply and Serve. The new curriculum replaces the old CORE-21 curriculum with a new version of general education requirements.

A restructure in Academic Services at California Lutheran University this summer has resulted in understaffing and new training for staff. In addition, a new curriculum, called IDEAS, is being implemented for new students.

According to Cal Lutheran’s Academic Services webpage, the IDEAS curriculum stands for Inquire, Develop, Experience, Apply and Serve. The webpage said the IDEAS curriculum replaces the CORE-21 curriculum with a new version of the general education requirements. 

“It’s intended for what students need going forward and is more focused specifically on the skills and knowledge that students need to be successful as they leave us,” Associate Vice President of Academic Services Maria Kohnke said.

Kohnke said that it is possible for students under the CORE-21 requirements to switch curriculums. However, she said there are changes that could affect needed coursework, and students who are interested in changing to the new IDEAS curriculum from the old CORE-21 requirements should speak to their student success counselor.

“Some things that were needed or applied under CORE 21 are different under IDEAS so it’s not a direct translation so students should make sure it’s the right choice for them,” Kohnke said. 

Several staff from the Academic Services Department, Kohnke said, as well as the Center for Student Success, had previously been reporting to her and will now report directly to the Vice President of Enrollment Management Matt Ward. 

The Center for Student Success, which is a separate department from Academic Services, went through staff shortages and changes recently but is now assisting students with a new Senior Director of Student Success, Leigh Fine. 

“Late spring into summer the team here at the Center for Student Success had a lot of turnovers, folks took new opportunities and so in the summer the crew here was down,” Fine said. “I want to give Jeremy Hoffman and Katie Swavely all the credit in the world, they are still on the team, they are the two assistant directors here at the center and they kept the ship afloat.”

During summer and at the start of the fall semester, Fine said there were some students who did not see their advisor listed on the school website. Fine said this might have created some confusion, however, he said the team was working to make sure all students got the assistance they needed.

“Students technically had access to advising, but might not have had names,” Fine said. “Now every student does have a name for their advisor and if that is not the case tell students to reach out.” 

Currently, Fine said, the Center for Student Success consists of two assistant directors, three counselors, and two specialists. In addition, he said there are two counselors in the Student Support Services program who also provide counseling to their population. 

Fine said The Center for Student Success is in the process of hiring one more counselor position and an operations coordinator position. Fine said he is hopeful the new operations coordinator position will help facilitate the advising relationship.

“We found that a lot of the challenges we’re facing aren’t so much with the academic advising,” Fine said. “It is with making computer systems talk with one another or answering technical questions.”    

The recently hired staff members will be trained by current team members, Katie Swavely, assistant director for Student Success Operations, said. 

“It is all hands on deck to try and get them trained and on board and everything else to support our students,” Swavely said.

Swavely said their plan is to provide updated information on the website and improve the messaging to students, including first-year seminar topics and outreach opportunities.

“While we’re in this tricky transitional phase, we’re still providing services, but we also need to get the message out that we are still here supporting students,” Swavely said. 

Fine said The Center for Student Success will continue to advise students on the new IDEAS curriculum, counsel students under the CORE 21 curriculum, and provide guidance to students regarding their major.

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