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New center strengthens Bethel advising tradition

New center strengthens Bethel advising tradition

Professor of Physics and Engineering Brian Beecken meets with a student.

Bethel has had a long history of strong advising from faculty to undergraduate students. Now, the university has raised its advising program to yet another level.

A new Advising Center opened last year. Along with it, Bethel brought on a new staff member—Academic Advising Specialist Rebekah Warren—to be the face of the advising program. Warren says the center represents Bethel’s continued commitment to student success. “A big strength of Bethel is that our students are really well supported,” she says. “And the Advising Center helps students identify that in a concrete way early on. Bethel wants to support you.”

Warren works with a dedicated advising team, consisting of three professors: Associate Professor of Business Bethany Opsata, Assistant Professor of History Sam Mulberry, and Director of Advising Patrice Conrath, who is also an associate professor of mathematics. Through the Advising Center, Warren and the team strengthen relationships between students and faculty by coming alongside them to provide resources and support.

The advising team attends prospective student and Welcome Week events so students know where to go for advising even at the very beginning of or before their Bethel college experience. Students also learn what advising is and the types of questions they can ask their advisor. “We want them to know that advisors are a really good resource to get connected with right away,” Warren says.

Transfer students and Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) students also know they can turn to Warren for additional support, and she works with them to answer questions about course requirements and ease their transition to Bethel. PSEO students in particular have to fulfill high school requirements through the courses they take at Bethel, which can get confusing. “I communicate with students to meet PSEO-specific needs and provide them with additional support. I help guide students through the process,” Warren says.

Warren’s focus on advising allows her to partner with faculty and career specialists as well as gain a close understanding of the catalog and academic requirements; she can refer students to the resources they need at the time they need them. “We have really good resources for people,” Warren says. “It’s just a matter of identifying to students what they are and how to find them.” Sometimes Warren says she needs to refer students to a faculty member who can provide them the information they need, but the convenience of having Warren as a main point of contact is helpful to students as well as faculty advisors. “It’s been exciting to see how my position is filling real needs,” Warren says. “This is something that is helping.”

Conrath describes Warren’s role as helping faculty do what they love—and that’s working with students. “Faculty are so invested and they really care about their advisees,” Conrath says. She adds, “Faculty are experts in their fields, and Rebecca can be the expert for advising details. Together, they make a great team.”

Warren is knowledgeable about administrative details, such as class registration procedures and graduation requirements. Advisors can consult with Warren for answers to such questions, giving them more time to have deeper conversations with advisees.

“We want to improve processes and minimize logistical details so that students can have rich, detailed conversations with their faculty advisors—about their calling, their purpose, and the possibilities for their future,” Conrath says.