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Tykeson Hall Update

As we near completion of Tykeson Hall construction and prepare to welcome students in fall term, I want to share our progress on operational aspects of the building.

The building is scheduled to be completed this summer, with staff moving in during the second half of August. Searches for the 20+ new professional advisors we will be hiring are nearing completion and offers are going out soon. These will be combined with the existing professional advisors in our College for a team of 31 advisors.

There were more than 300 applications for these new positions in a very competitive pool. Training of these advisors will be led by Gene Sandan, our new Director of College and Career Advising and the staff of Undergraduate Education and Student Success (UESS). UO has also successfully completed its search for a director of the University Career Center and we look forward to welcoming Paul Timmins—who comes to us from the University of Minnesota’s College of Liberal Arts—when he arrives in August.

What does this mean for CAS departments and their majors? We have met with department advising personnel, held working sessions, and done research to understand this as best as we can and to plan Tykeson Hall advising accordingly. However, because advising in each CAS department has grown organically into its own unique model over the decades, the advising landscape across our departments and programs is sort of like a box of chocolates—every single department/program does it differently, provides different types of services, and has different thoughts about what advising services are most important for their students.

Consequently, out of these conversations, we have developed a set of Advising Guidelines. These provide a picture of what we’ve learned from individual departments and also outline what we can expect Tykeson advisors to offer our students and what will generally be handled by other advisors on campus, including in our departments and programs. It is important to note that these guidelines provide a comprehensive list of all the possible advising duties/roles that a particular type of advisor may perform. If your department/program is not currently providing some of the things we have listed under the department advising personnel, no one is requiring that you start doing so now.

As a general summary of these guidelines, Tykeson advisors will take on the day-to-day academic and career advising for departments, while referring students to departments for such things as curricular-related matters, graduate school opportunities, and honors requirements. The hope is that this will free up some departments to pivot into other student success activities—ranging from coordinating more student engagement activities to developing more experiential learning opportunities. But, again, I will stress that pivoting to these new activities is NOT a requirement of departments and programs. I should also stress that we are not asking faculty to stop mentoring—and caring for—their students’ well-being. From its very beginnings, the Tykeson Hall vision has involved the creation of a campus advising hub, so exploring students in particular—and all those many students who never see any advisor at all—know where to go to get basic advice that will allow them to better plan for and pursue their academic and career goals.

There will be one difference across departments that is important to point out. The vast majority of CAS departments will not experience any change in their existing advising personnel as we open the building. However, in order to staff Tykeson properly in this time of constrained budgets, we will be transferring any existing professional advisors in CAS departments to Tykeson this summer. This will affect at most six departments, and we have been having substantial conversations with them about the transition. The potential for disruption for them is clearly much greater than in those units without a professional advisor, and we need to quickly ensure that we can take care of their majors through this transition and into the future.

We share the goal of improving student success on our campus—from better retention and graduation rates to better career readiness when they graduate. This is why I’m so excited about the opening of Tykeson Hall. I understand that any change, especially a significant one like this, is stressful. Transitions are not costless, either. But I want to ask you for your good will and spirit of collaboration to help us make this project successful. We are trying something new. We don’t have it all figured out yet. So, we will keep listening and refining even after the building opens and for many years to come. We’ll need both your assistance and your patience to make it go as smoothly as possible for our students.

There are many more details that we will provide in the coming weeks and months, but I hope this gives everyone a sense of the general plan. There have been recurring concerns from various colleagues, and so I am concluding with responses to some frequently asked questions (FAQs).

Bruce Blonigen
Interim Tykeson Dean of Arts and Sciences

 

FAQs

This new Tykeson advising enterprise looks like a major undertaking. Won’t it just increase workload for departments, especially in the transition?

With the hiring of more than 20 new professional advisors, we absolutely want to make sure that departments do NOT experience any additional workload from the introduction of Tykeson as we increase student services. Except for no more than six departments that currently have professional advisors who will be moving to Tykeson, we are not making any changes to advising personnel in departments due to the opening of Tykeson.

As with any transition, unexpected things will come up that may suddenly create new questions or work. Please let Gene Sandan and his advising team know this, so we can adjust your workload back to appropriate levels.The Tykeson advising team will have a dedicated liaison for your department, who will be meeting and communicating with your staff frequently; they will be a convenient and ready contact when you have concerns and they will help us fine tune everyone’s advising roles as we all adapt to the Tykeson Hall support model for students. We expect new possibilities for collaboration and support as the new Career Center director transitions into his role.

I’m hearing that Tykeson Hall advising means that CAS departments should no longer advise majors. Is this true?

Tykeson Hall is a partnership among the Division of Undergraduate Education, the University Career Center, and CAS. It is also an emerging partnership among the departments and Tykeson Hall advisors, many of whom have been already advising CAS majors for some time. We believe that students new to UO will be relieved to find an entire building at the center of campus devoted to their advising needs. As the Advising Guidelines emphasize, plenty of advising work will continue to occur in departments. As is the case with any new partnership, we expect that the roles and responsibilities of advisors will continue to evolve over the next few years and we—along with our partners—are committed to troubleshooting any challenges that arise.

Hasn’t CAS already reduced advising FTE for Career NTTF in some departments because they are transitioning all CAS advising to Tykeson?

From a survey of NTTF FTE devoted to non-instructional duties this past March, we found that a handful of departments (less than five) were devoting a disproportionate amount of FTE to advising relative to their number of majors. In response to the directive to cut expenditures in the coming years, we reduced FTE accordingly in these departments. This was an adjustment we would have made anyway and not related to Tykeson Hall.

As described above, while Tykeson will clearly be a hub for CAS major advising, departments will continue to have an important advising role, and we envision the development of a collaborative partnership between Tykeson advisors and departments to the benefit of our students.

Won’t it be most efficient for Tykeson advisors to simply guide students into already well-populated majors, leading to even greater losses in our lesser-known majors?

A primary goal for Tykeson advising will be expose students to our lesser-known majors to a much greater extent than they currently are. And UESS is very much supportive of this goal, too.

Here’s a problem Tykeson could remedy: Students currently come to UO having chosen a major based on relatively little information, typically in response to advice from family and friends. These sources of information often push them into a few career paths that everyone thinks will “get them a job,” and so more than half of our freshmen come to UO declared as pre-health or pre-business majors. Right now, there are two primary ways they might reconsider those choices: 1) if they’re unhappy or not succeeding in those majors, which happens frequently and causes distress, and 2) if they take a general education class and unexpectedly get passionate about something else.

Instead, here’s what Tykeson Hall advising will do:

1) Put all students into a flight path (or meta major) where they will learn about many related academic majors and the career opportunities that are connected to them.

2) Have many more students get connected with an advisor who will push them to think about their skills, passions, and experiences and how these might relate to a variety of academic and career paths.

3) Use the building itself to expose students (through video boards and other means) to many diverse examples of the careers pursued by recent liberal arts CAS alumni and how their career path developed from their major. This is one key strategy we can pursue to highlight lesser-known majors. Lisa Raleigh has been working on these stories and will continue to do so over the summer.

Note that these Tykeson efforts will enhance department’s use of introductory core curriculum courses to get students passionate about their major. We believe that these introductory core curriculum courses remain the most important strategy for gaining majors. And, of course, faculty and staff can continue to utilize any other methods they have to recruit and advise majors.

My department is one of those losing a professional advisor to Tykeson. How will my department be supported during this transition?

The potential for disruption is clearly the greatest for these departments, which is why we have been having many conversations with their head, advisors, and staff. Each of these departments has distinctive needs and concerns that will need to be addressed, and we continue to refine our transition plans with them as we move forward. During the upcoming year, I have asked Gene and our entire staff to prioritize our Tykeson advising services toward meeting the needs of students in these majors, as the other departments in CAS will not see disruptions to their advising personnel. The departments that had professional advisors comprise some of our largest majors in CAS, so we have to work hard and effectively to make sure these majors are well served as Tykeson opens, despite these personnel changes.



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