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Alumni and Friends Making an Impact

One Day, One Dayton Gifts Help SBA Keep Pace With Growth

“You would not have known this, but my freshman year, I was very quiet. I hardly spoke to anyone,” said junior Dani Lewis. “Now, as a peer adviser, I talk to students all the time. I give tours to families. Being in this role has really brought me out of my shell.”

As the lead peer adviser in the School of Business Administration, she also manages 20 other peer advisers, which has helped her grow in other ways. “I have to be organized and manage my time well,” she said.

In addition to assisting the School’s professional advisers, Lewis and the other peer advisers help more than 500 first-year students transition from high school to college successfully. “We’re there to be role models and guides for them,” she said.

Lewis has been working in the School of Business Administration Undergraduate Advising Center since her first year and has seen the workload for peer advisers steadily increase. “We used to have 20 to 25 freshman students assigned to each peer adviser, but now it’s 30 to 35.”

Growing enrollment in the School has meant more work for the School’s professional advisers as well. Since 2008, the School has had four professional advisers, despite an enrollment rise of 35% in the last decade. In addition, the advisers within the School are now all professional, rather than faculty, a best-practice model that adds to an already increasing workload.

“Students are more satisfied with their experience when there are full-time advisers with set office hours,” said Janet Leonard, assistant dean and director of the advising office. “Also, professional advisers can offer more advice in regard to non-business classes than a faculty adviser can.”

But this model, paired with the increased enrollment — currently at 2,017 students — has presented difficulties. Lewis has seen it firsthand. “We’ll have students come in, especially on busy days, and leave because the line to see an adviser is too long.”

In addition, until recently, the advising office encompassed a mere 920 square feet and consisted of a small reception area — with two desks crammed in, enabling one peer adviser and the administrative assistant to greet students — and four tight offices for professional advisers.

Thanks to One Day, One Dayton gifts to the Dean’s Fund for Excellence, the School recently moved the office to a newly remodeled space with more than double the square feet: Room 053 in Miriam Hall.

The advising center now has an immense reception area, where up to four peer advisers, as well as the administrative assistant, can greet students, greatly buffering against long lines. Seven large offices will enable the School to bring in more professional advisers, better serving the growing number of students — as well as a career adviser from Career Services. Having the career adviser in such close proximity allows the School to work more fluidly with Career Services to find students the right internships. “Now we have first course to first career all in one spot,” said Dean John Mittelstaedt.

The staff will also have a conference room available for meetings and for visits with potential students and their families. In the past, advisers would cram students and families into a small office, but now they can provide a better impression in the large, completely remodeled room.

The space hadn’t been touched in decades, so a major remodel was desperately needed: new floors, walls, ceiling, paint, heating, air conditioning and electrical components. Donor support made this massive undertaking possible, enabling the professional and peer advisers to keep pace with a School that continues to grow in breadth and programming.

Lewis takes pride in her work as a peer adviser, and is grateful for all the revamped advising office will bring. “More space means more opportunities to help more students,” she said. Opportunities brought forth with donor support.

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