The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Director of Undergraduate Advising - Political Science

Job Summary

Leads a team of academic advisors and provides complex comprehensive advising for students in College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) majors, double majors, dual degrees, minors, as well as University exploratory track students.  Ensures high quality advising and academic services for all students, with particular emphasis on programmatic needs for first-year, transfer, and at-risk students. Leads the development and delivery of programs and services that will enhance student success, retention, and the student experience. Analyzes and uses student data to inform and improve programmatic and individual student advising performance. Collaborates with the department’s Undergraduate Studies Committee to inform program changes and improve undergraduate programs and students’ experiences. Uses computer-based registration and academic records technology, such as Spire and Navigate. Responsive to the widely varied needs of diverse student populations and works in a high volume and fast-paced work environment.


Essential Functions

  • Leads a small team of academic advisors providing services for SBS students. Trains, mentors, and supervises employees to ensure high-quality and highly-responsive academic advising services.
  • Provides comprehensive, individualized and small group advising to a diverse population of students during the academic year, including new student and transfer orientation/registration periods, and current student registration periods. 
  • Responds to common issues such as registration-related matters including fulfilling University general education requirements, interpreting major and college requirements, and providing guidance for dual degrees, double majors, and minors.
  • Assists students with complex matters that involve goal setting, self-assessment and time management skills, planning and decision-making such as establishing an academic plan, choosing a major within and outside of SBS, selecting courses, and evaluating courses for study-abroad experiences. Conducts one-on-one advising sessions for both declared and exploratory track students.
  • Identifies at-risk students experiencing academic and often critical personal difficulties. Addresses relevant issues and makes appropriate referrals to University agencies.
  • Advises a diverse incoming (first-year and transfer) population in a fast-paced, high-volume, advising format during New Student Orientation before the start of each semester.
  • Responds to and manages high-stress and sensitive inquiries from parents or caregivers in accordance with FERPA and in a highly-professional and respectful manner and tone.
  • Alerts Assistant Dean when unanticipated issues arise and assists in finding solutions. Manages higher-risk students and students with specialized needs with the support of Assistant Dean.
  • Represents SBS and departmental advising programs on college and university-level committees as needed and work collaboratively with relevant faculty, staff, students, student groups and other campus groups as necessary. Participates in evening and weekend activities including Destination Days (Open House), Senior Celebration, Undergraduate Commencement, and other activities and events that may be developed.
  • Manages complex graduation clearance processing, being familiar with all changes in degree programs, and oversees departmental colleagues to determine any curricular exceptions.
  • Collaborates in training new professional, graduate student, and peer advisors by providing them with and helping them understand the most current information about requirements in SBS majors and other majors of prospective SBS students. Executes special projects as needed to support SBS Assistant Deans and the mission of the SBS Pathways Center, departments, and the College.
  • Develops strategies using department, SBS, and University-wide data to inform advising services, recruitment, and retention; to identify and describe key strengths, weaknesses, and patterns in the program; and to transform that information into student service and programmatic improvements.
  • Assesses, improves, and maintains undergraduate/advising communication and outreach strategies to strengthen the College or department’s overall communications strategy. Develops and maintains relevant templates, scripts and other tools for use in recruitment, retention, guidance and other key dimensions of advising.

Other Functions

  • Performs related duties as assigned or required to meet Department, Executive Area/Division, and University goals and objectives.
  • Demonstrates capacity, skill and willingness to engage students and contribute to student success.
  • Works collaboratively with SBS colleagues and other campus stakeholders to fulfill the mission of Student Affairs and Campus Life, and Student Success.
  • Establishes and continually updates knowledge of faculty teaching, research, and interest areas as well as campus resources to appropriately refer majors for additional consultation, advising, and coursework.

Minimum Qualifications (Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, Education, Experience, Certifications, Licensure)

  • Master's degree in the Social Sciences, Higher Education, or a closely-related field plus four years professional experience in advising or promoting student success. 
  • Experience in serving a large, culturally-diverse population.
  • Demonstrated capacity for supervision of professional staff.
  • Able to recognize at-risk individuals and provide appropriate support and direction.
  • Demonstrated ability to manage a high volume of complex and varied client needs.
  • Oral, written, and interpersonal communication skills. Strong organizational and problem-solving skills and the ability to work collaboratively with department, College, and University colleagues.
  • Intermediate level computer proficiency; the ability to use data analytics and associated tools to proactively identify patterns across student outcomes and profiles and to organize and evaluate the success of programming, workshops, campaigns and communication channels.
  • Skilled in small group presentations and able to take initiative and work independently or collaboratively with various university personnel. 
  • Highly-knowledgeable with respect to FERPA, Title IX, and all University academic rules and regulations.

Physical Demands/Working Conditions

Typical office environment.

Work Schedule

  • Monday – Friday, 37.5 hours/week.
  • Required to work some nights and weekends.

Salary Information

Level 27

PSU Salary Ranges

Special Instructions to Applicants

Please submit your application online and include a cover letter, resume, and contact information for three professional references. In the cover letter, please include a diversity statement that is a paragraph or two in length that discusses your commitment to equity, inclusion, and diversity. Position will remain open until a suitable candidate pool has been identified.

 UMass Amherst is committed to a policy of equal opportunity without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, age, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, disability, military status, or genetic information in employment, admission to and participation in academic programs, activities, and services, and the selection of vendors who provide services or products to the University.  To fulfill that policy, UMass Amherst is further committed to a program of affirmative action to eliminate or mitigate artificial barriers and to increase opportunities for the recruitment and advancement of qualified minorities, women, persons with disabilities, and covered veterans.  It is the policy of the UMass Amherst to comply with the applicable federal and state statutes, rules, and regulations concerning equal opportunity and affirmative action.

Advertised: Sep 15 2021 Eastern Daylight Time



About UMass Amherst

UMass Amherst, the Commonwealth's flagship campus, is a nationally ranked public research university offering a full range of undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University sits on nearly 1,450-acres in the scenic Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts, and offers a rich cultural environment in a bucolic setting close to major urban centers. In addition, the University is part of the Five Colleges (including Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, and Smith College), which adds to the intellectual energy of the region.