As the next step in the University of Notre Dame’s plan to enhance its four-year academic advising model, Elly Brenner has been appointed assistant provost for academic advising.
In this newly created role, Brenner, who currently serves as assistant dean for records and registration in the University’s First Year of Studies, will provide centralized leadership for the University’s various academic advising services, including programs to assist first-year students entering Notre Dame.
“We conducted a national search to identify the best possible candidate to lead Notre Dame’s work in the area of undergraduate academic advising,” said Tom Burish, Charles and Jill Fischer Provost. “In Elly, we have found that person, someone who has distinguished herself both as a practitioner and administrator while displaying an abiding commitment to the success and well-being of our students. I am pleased she has accepted our offer to take on this exciting new role.”
Brenner brings more than 15 years of academic advising experience at Notre Dame to the assistant provost position. As assistant dean in The First Year of Studies, her duties include overseeing the annual registration of the entire 2,000-plus member first-year class.
Brenner was previously director of the Peer Advising Program and director of special projects and first-year intellectual initiatives within The First Year of Studies. With partners in the Division of Student Affairs, she has also helped plan and implement the programming for Notre Dame’s Welcome Weekend, and her work with students has been recognized with a Dockweiler Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising.
A 1998 graduate of Notre Dame, Brenner holds an M.A. in public policy and administration and an M.S.W. with a clinical concentration from The Ohio State University. Her appointment as assistant provost is effective July 1.
The creation of the assistant provost for academic advising position was among several recommendations made by an ad hoc committee on academic advising during the 2017-18 academic year. Another was that first-year students not be admitted to a separate First Year of Studies college.
These changes coincide with and are complementary to Notre Dame’s recent redesign of its core curriculum, a set of requirements that apply to all students, regardless of major. The new version of the core, which was implemented starting with the class that enrolled in fall 2018, focuses less on providing introductions to specific disciplines and more on exposing students to various modes of thought—i.e., Ways of Knowing—for approaching, analyzing, and understanding different aspects of our lives and our world.
The faculty committee that led the core curriculum redesign recommended allowing students more flexibility to spread their core curriculum courses over a four-year period, rather than trying to fit them into their first year or two. The intention is to expand students’ ability to sample courses or take advanced courses during the first year depending on their needs and interests.
As a result, academic advising practices at Notre Dame will become more individualized and require increased collaboration and cooperation between first-year advisors and advisors for college and school majors. Integrating these two advising groups will be one of Brenner’s major priorities as assistant provost.
Hugh Page, Jr., vice president and associate provost for undergraduate affairs, who is also a professor of theology and Africana studies, has served as dean of The First Year of Studies since 2005. In this role he has helped create a number of programs to assist students in making the transition to undergraduate life at the University and enhance their intellectual development.
“We owe Hugh our gratitude for his leadership in helping create programs including the ND Ignite initiative and the Moreau First Year Experience Program, conducted in partnership with the Division of Student Affairs,” Burish said. “Going forward, we plan to build on the success of our excellent first-year academic advising practices, as we expand and integrate them more fully with those of our colleges and schools.”
Following the implementation of planned changes to the University’s academic advising processes and structures, Page will continue to serve in the vice president and associate provost role as well as professor of theology and Africana studies.