Speaking Out

A Farewell and a Plea

Dear Colleagues,

In the process of working to cut administrative costs, the University has decided to eliminate the position of Faculty Liaison to Student Services, as of July 1.

Obviously that decision makes me sad, for I have been growing busier every year doing this work and loving what I have been doing. But what worries me is that you may be discouraged about reaching out on behalf of your students. Please, keep on noticing and keep on caring! Over the years, more and more of you have caught students in the early stages of their troubles and have kept them from floundering or have called for help in late -stage trouble to keep more serious crises from arising.

Because your referrals to me have increased regularly during the three years in which I have served as Liaison, I know that the number of students dealing with serious and debilitating illness, with the death of a parent, with financial worries that interfere with studies, and with all the more minor but still potentially derailing adjustment problems that may strike even the brightest students during their years at Penn is not likely to diminish just because I am not around to be useful in steering you or your students to appropriate help.

I know, too, that the various student services from the undergraduate advising offices to financial aid to various venues for counseling are stretched thin in working to keep students successful here.

But these student services still exist and those working for them are extraordinarily dedicated, putting in long hours, often well into the weekends, to do the best they can with the resources they have.

I hope I can get someone in the Vice Provost's Office to take over the job of keeping up the Faculty Resource Guide so that you can find these student aids easily. (In the meantime, the Guide remains on my own home page.)

So do continue to send out midsemester warnings when students do poorly on exams, to talk to students who seem to be slipping, to refer to those who can supplement your instruction with the support that will enable your students to learn. And, until July 1, call on me as much as you like. This is a troubling time of year for many students and even at the last minute intervention can often avert disaster.

Thanks to all of you who have, over the years, demonstrated to your students that a big university can still provide personal attention.

-- Alice Kelley, Associate Professor of English and Faculty Liaison to Student Services


Volume 43 Number 32
April 29, 1997

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