CASA expands student resources: New advising, mentor programs underway


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As CASA strives to make resources more accessible, the Tutoring Center and Career Development will be in the same location.

FMU began a new program, the Center for Academic Success and Advisement (CASA) to help students become more successful by providing many types of resources in one location—Founders Hall (FH) 220.

CASA entails multiple previously existing student resources, such as the Writing Center, Tutoring Center and Career Development Center. Both the tutoring center and career development center will be moving to the CASA location in FH. Although the Writing Center will not move locations, it is still close in location to the rest of CASA. CASA also added additional resources for student advising and the new Patriot Mentor program.

According to Dr. Jennifer Kunka, associate provost for advising, the idea for CASA came about through a faculty committee, chaired by FMU Provost Peter King during the previous academic year. This committee reviewed questions related to advising and student success.

Kunka said that the faculty made many recommendations to FMU President Dr. Luther Carter and that he was able to put many of those into action this summer. This is how CASA was created.

“The faculty members that I worked with were very excited to see that the president was able to take so many of our recommendations and make them reality,” Kunka said.

Kunka said that the advisement section of CASA adds to the class advising students already get from professors at the end of each semester. Although this advising is still in effect, students are also be able to receive class advising through CASA.

CASA will also handle questions from students about how to pursue their majors, how to talk to professors and how to study for college classes, according to Kunka.

“I would rather they come here than go on Yik Yak for that advice because we will tell them what they need to know, and it would be better to get that from an informed source,” Kunka said.

She said that at CASA, the goal is to help students. If students, especially first year students, have questions about how to handle things at a university, CASA is a place where they can go for advice.

“Some students may not have had family members attend college, or may not have that support from their family,” Kunka said. “Whatever the case is, we want students to know that we are here to help them.”

When advising occurs, Kunka said that many students might have questions that pertain to other student resources. Since as a part of CASA many of these resources are moving to the same location, she is excited about the fact that advisors will be able to walk students over to the other areas and help them get the resources they need.

In addition to Kunka, there will be at least five other advisors. Kunka is in the process of hiring at least two advising directors and two graduate assistants with the title of “academic advisors” who will also be assisting in the advisement part of CASA.

Although she is currently focusing on hiring staff, coordinating construction and creating the processes of CASA, Kunka will herself serve as a student advisor through her role as associate provost for advising.

CASA Advising appointments are made by calling for an appointment or by walk-in.

Currently, the Tutoring Center is located in Leatherman Science Facility room 107.

Kunka said that the construction at CASA is expected to be done by the end of October, at which point the Tutoring Center and Career Development Center will move to the CASA office.

According to Kunka, the Tutoring Center itself will not receive many changes other than its location, and students will not lose any resources. She said that the hours are being extended, and that appointments can now be made online in the same place as Writing Center appointments through the FMU website. Although appointments will be given priority, students can still walk in as they did previously.

“I think this makes it more transparent and accessible for who is available for the different types of tutoring and at what times,” Kunka said.

According to Kunka, Patriot Mentors is a new program through CASA in which the mentors attend university life (UL) classes and give feedback from the perspective of an experienced upper-class student.

Kunka said the students will be hearing about the FMU experience from the point-of-view of someone who has been in their shoes and has become successful at FMU.

The patriot mentors will also have other leadership opportunities throughout the year. The hiring process is still in effect, and there will be at least one per UL class and additional ones.

Kunka said she is excited about each aspect of working in CASA, but that her favorite part so far has been helping freshman with their questions about their first year of FMU. She is also grateful for FMU’s dedication to students.

“FMU cares about students and wants them to be successful,” Kunka said. “FMU is 100 percent behind giving students the resources they need to be successful students, to work through their classes and degree programs and graduate and pursue exciting career paths. Students just need to come to us and find the resources that will help them do well.”

To get more information about CASA, visit the office at 220 FH or call 843-661- 1400.