Updates on CWRU's undergraduate advising, education requirements and more

Dear Case Western Reserve University Faculty and Staff:

It has been a busy summer, and I hope you have had the opportunity to spend time with family and friends over these warm days. I write to update you on three topics in the Office of the Provost:

  • undergraduate advising,
  • the new Unified General Education Requirements (UGER), and
  • the establishment of key positions to enhance student success.

Undergraduate Advising

Our new Undergraduate Advising Support (UAS) office is now fully staffed. It includes 27 four-year advisors who engage with students prior to their arrival and all the way through to graduation. Four-year advisors work with relatively small numbers of students, allowing them to devote more attention to each one’s individual needs and path for success. 

New students began registering this week, and four-year advisors have met with nearly all of the students in our entering class (approximately 1,550). Next week, four-year advisors will review each student’s course registration to confirm they are fulfilling requirements of our new curriculum. We hope this advance effort will enrich conversations between pre-major faculty advisors and their advisees by offering additional time to focus on such topics as career goals and curriculum plans, engagement with our campus, and experiential-learning opportunities.

For pre-major faculty advisors, we have also developed August trainings to help prepare them to meet with their advisees during Discover Week (orientation). These sessions will include information needed to advise students from their arrival on campus leading up to the moment when students declare their majors.

We have also configured offices with student needs in mind. For example, we have located many of the key student-facing offices together in the Sears building so students can more easily engage multiple professionals for supports and services in one place. These offices include:

  • University Registrar,
  • Financial Aid,
  • Cashier,
  • Student Financial Services,
  • Undergraduate Advising Support,
  • the Career Center,
  • Undergraduate Research and
  • Academic Support Resources for Students.

When counseling services relocates to the Dental Research Building (near the corner of Cornell Road and Circle Drive) in August, all of the offices and staff of University Health and Counseling Service will be together. This arrangement reflects best practices in healthcare delivery for students.

Unified General Education Requirements (UGER)

Faculty groups and administrators have worked since last fall and throughout this summer to ensure that the university offers an appropriate number of courses and experiences for the start of the fall semester. As of this writing, the Academic Inquiry Seminars courses are in place and sufficient Communication Intensive courses (and University Seminars) are available.

In addition, updates to the General Bulletin—as well as an accompanying website—that provide UGER details are underway. We also have been working to complete the Explore curriculum, creating a portfolio platform for students and faculty to house UGER materials, and updating the Student Information System so students and faculty can search for courses that meet the Perspectives requirement.

I am thankful for all who worked so hard to get us to this point.

Key Positions

As part of changes involved in establishing our new advising structure and implementing the Unified General Education Requirements, we moved two positions directly into the Office of the Provost as of July 1:

  • Peter Shulman will help lead, implement, and assess the new UGER as associate provost for curriculum (while also continuing to serve as an associate professor in the Department of History). In this role, he will oversee and coordinate undergraduate curricular matters that cut across the university’s schools and degree programs, working closely with deans, departments, and faculty. Given his extensive experience in helping to develop and advance the UGER, we are grateful that Peter is helping to drive its implementation.
  • Jeff Wolcowitz has transitioned from his longtime role as dean of undergraduate studies to become our office’s senior advisor for learning. His recent expertise in managing the UGER adoption process in the Faculty Senate Committee on Undergraduate Education, as well as his decades leading the Office of Undergraduate Studies, will provide helpful insight and continuity during this transition.

In addition:

  • Rebecca Benard has assumed a temporary summer assignment as a senior advisor. She is leading our rollout of the new requirements as well as new advising structures. She served in a similar role as a member of the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office, and I am confident she will provide meaningful assistance to other schools working through this transition. 

I am grateful to all of the faculty and staff who have been part of this transition—as well as those who served previously as members of the Commission on the Undergraduate Experience. This process has been a team effort and has taken far longer than any of us could have imagined. I appreciate the patience and steadfast commitment you have shown to this process. I look forward to seeing the many ways your thoughtful and carefully considered efforts benefit the students as we welcome them next month.


Joy K. Ward
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President