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What Benefits Come From Serving as a Student Chapter Advisor?

by Dr. Bruce Wonder    
Does it benefit a professor's career to serve as an SHRM student chapter advisor? In most cases, the answer is ‘no'. For students benefiting from an advisor's guidance this may come as a surprise, but it is a reality. Most faculty members are evaluated primarily on their scholarly research and publications, and on their teaching effectiveness. Advising student groups tends to fall into a third category called "service" that is usually given very little weight in the performance review process. For this reason, professors are often discouraged from spending their time in such activities.

If your chapter is fortunate enough to have an active, committed advisor despite these obstacles, how can you express your appreciation for the advisor's work? How can you persuade your college or university to recognize your advisor's service as a valuable contribution to your education? The key is to place chapter advising activities in the "teaching effectiveness" category.

Most students would agree that their formal college education is not exclusively classroom-based. Increasingly, colleges and universities are promoting the educational value of experiential alternatives to traditional classes. One example is the tremendous growth in the number of institutions granting academic credit for internships. It can easily be argued that participating in an SHRM student chapter is another form of experiential education providing students with a variety of opportunities to enhance and apply what they study in their classes. The advisor is therefore acting as an instructor, though not in the traditional classroom environment.

To help achieve the professional recognition a good chapter advisor deserves, consider writing a formal assessment of the advisor's performance each year. Mail it to the department chair and the college dean and specify in the letter that it is a "teaching evaluation", not to be confused with the "service" category. We must help colleges and universities to realize that effective chapter advising is just another form of effective teaching. In the long run, aligning the role of chapter advisor more closely with faculty performance criteria should help to attract, motivate, and retain strong chapter advisors.

What's your opinion? Send your comments to SHRM Student Programs.
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