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Student success is the priority for academic advisors at Concordia

A university-wide working group convenes to share wisdom and best practices
September 17, 2019
By Margaret Colton and Shoshana Kalfon


Members of Concordia’s Central Advising Working Group (CAWG) convened at 4TH SPACE on August 22 for their first annual Appreciation and Visioning Retreat.

Established in Fall 2018, CAWG is comprised of professional academic advisors and managers from the Student Academic Services units in all four faculties, as well as representatives from Enrolment Services and the Student Success Centre.

The group's mission is to champion effective academic advising services to students through sharing best practices, increasing engagement of staff who support students across academic and non-academic areas, providing support to all academic advisors and addressing areas for improvement.

Members who attended the retreat not only reflected on the strides the group made in its first year, but also looked toward the future to create a Concordia-wide academic advising mission statement. Members were joined by Anne Whitelaw, Concordia’s interim provost and vice-president, academic, as well as deans and associate deans from each faculty.

“The community of practice that CAWG has made possible has been instrumental in developing and fine-tuning the key support that advising staff across all four faculties is providing to our undergraduate students,” says Whitelaw. “I look forward to seeing how it builds on the success of this first retreat.”

In its inaugural year, CAWG subcommittees created a Moodle for academic advising professional development to be introduced later this Fall, discussed support for students in conditional or failed standing and launched informational videos for independent students. They also organized 2019-20 professional development workshops for advisors (schedule will be announced shortly) and trained student employees on how to navigate and refer across Concordia’s academic advising landscape.

CAWG’s long-term goals include increasing communication and collaboration between student-facing units, providing professional development opportunities for academic advisors at the department level and coordinating academic advising practices across units to better serve students.

The group also aims to clarify the roles and responsibilities of all advisors and develop best practices in academic advising at Concordia.


Here’s what some of this year’s retreat participants had to say:

Perla Muyal, academic and retention counsellor, Faculty of Fine Arts
“It has been a cooperative adventure in building a strong holistic advising structure at Concordia, where academic advising intersects with student support services. Already, in one year, we have accomplished many of our initial goals. We are a dynamic group whose prize is student success.”

Ayanna Durant, student advisor, John Molson School of Business
“Collaborating with other academic advisors across Concordia’s four faculties was a necessary and purposeful experience. The opportunity to share our realities confirmed one main takeaway: student success is our priority.”

Philippe Caignon, associate dean, Student Academic Services, Faculty of Arts and Science
“The CAWG is a proactive, practical and efficient initiative empowering our advisors who are now able to share their collective wisdom and best practices in order to develop resources to better guide our students toward success while being inspirational, problem-solving professionals.”

Amir Asif, dean, Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science
“The Gina Cody School values the constructive working relationships between students and their academic advisors, because academic advising enables students to make informed decisions during their education. The CAWG facilitates the collaborative and continuous improvement of methods to best serve our student population.​”

Find out more about Concordia’s
undergraduate academic advising units in each faculty.



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