Division of Education students working on lesson plans in class. MANHATTAN.EDU/COURTESY
By Aryanna Santana, Contributor
In recent years, Manhattan College has undergone a series of transformations to align its academic divisions with evolving educational trends and student needs. One of the significant shifts witnessed on campus was the transition of the school of education and health to the school of health professions in July.
The move to establish the autonomous division of education under the school of liberal arts was met with mixed emotions among students and faculty. The transition was primarily aimed at fostering a more specialized academic environment. However, an unforeseen consequence has been the strain on academic advising services, which students typically rely on for personalized guidance regarding course selection, internships and career prospects.
Students have voiced concerns about the availability and accessibility of advising appointments. Ivett Cevallos, a junior childhood and special education major at MC, shared her perspective on students’ challenges in the education division.
“I have a great advisor and she tries to be available and work with us,” said Cevallos. “But, I understand that she has a large caseload of students to advise so accessibility and availability is not really an option.”
Cevallos added her thoughts on the frustrations of many students grappling with a reduced support system.
“I feel like I have limited sources to have the guidance that I need to succeed,” said Cevallos. “Especially after the merge, the resources and the people we have to go to have been [cut down] even more.”
Cevallos’s journey from a biology major to education was motivated by the hope for a more supportive academic environment.
“I was a biology major before, and I switched to education thinking I would have a better experience under a different environment, but I feel like I had more guidance in the School of Science than I do now,” Cevallos said.
Sophomore childhood education major Mimi Lopez echoed similar sentiments.
“I think this is scratching the surface for some of the problems we are going to have in the future,” said Lopez. “I genuinely believe that [fall] registration is going to be a headache for students, professors and faculty alike. I feel like everyone’s trying to act normal about this, but it’s not.”
To address concerns regarding the shortage of academic advisors, the division of education faculty is actively exploring solutions to enhance the support system for students and staff within the Division of Education.
Education professor Ruth Zealand, Ph.D., has served with the college since 2017, and emphasized the necessary unity between students and faculty in facing these challenges head-on.
“My number of advisees ranged from 25 to 40,” Zealand said. “With less faculty in the department, we’ll probably have even more [advisees] this year.”
However, there seems to be a glimmer of hope for the division.
“There have been some bumps, but we are not letting that get in the way of providing for students,” said Zealand. “School of Liberal Arts Dean Cory Blad has been a tremendous help. Sharing a common goal and the fact that we’re all on the same page [students and programs as priority] will aid us. The fact that we have become a division and can still be autonomous is a stepping stone to new opportunities with other departments.”
Zealand explained that among the faculty advisors, they are looking at Kappa Delta Pi (KDP) members and group advising for students to help ease the transition.