Sep 032003
Authors: By Kyle Endres

The hardest thing about making the transition from three former organizations into the new Center for Advising and Student Achievement this year has been a lack of time, said Paul Thayer, executive director of CASA.

“It would have been more convenient if we had more time to do it,” Thayer said. “We have to be pretty creative with how we set up some of our systems.”

In early April, in a cost-saving move, the university decided to consolidate the former HELP/Success Center, the Center for Life Sciences and the Undergraduate Student Retention Office into one office. Thus, CASA was formed and this summer it was moved in to the northeast side of Aylesworth Hall.

Thayer said CASA offers most of the programs provided by the three individual centers, although seven staff positions were lost.

Thayer, formerly the director of the Undergraduate Student Retention Office, was chosen as director of the merged center during a job search that included Paul Shang, former director of the HELP/Success Center, and Tom Gorell, former director of the Center for Life Sciences. Gorell is still with the university as director of another CLS, which serves different functions. Shang is no longer with the university.

Among the services the merged center provides are open option student advising, university withdrawals, the Preview program for incoming freshmen, a Next Step program for transfer students and the First Generation Award Program.

Elizabeth Smith, a freshman open option student who attended Preview and registered for classes through CASA, said the center was “really efficient.”

“I thought (Preview) was really good,” she said. “It wasn’t a hassle at all.”

But sophomore Brian Rand worries that last year’s long waits for advising will get even longer now that the center is providing more services.

“It used to be swamped when I went there,” said Rand, an open option major. “I can’t imagine what it’s like now. I think there’ll definitely be an increase in waiting time.”

Thayer said he believes that CASA will be successful because its staff is extremely dedicated.

“Even though this was difficult in some ways, all the people in the center really understand what we needed to do,” he said. “There’s just such great knowledge among the staff about other areas of campus.”

Thayer extends an invitation to students to stop by.

“We’re just anxious for students to come over to check us out,” Thayer said.

“It’s more of a one-stop shop. We think that’s really going to make it more efficient, more effective. Our objective is to help students with the resources they need to be as successful as possible on this campus.”

More information about CASA’s functions can be found at

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