Syracuse University’s Office of Institutional Research and Assessment (OIRA) was recently created through a merger of the Office of Institutional Research and the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment. The streamlined operation, located at 400 Ostrom Avenue, serves all members…
Office of Academic and Career Advising Names Directors
In early 2023, the Office of Academic and Career Advising for the College of Arts and Sciences and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs rolled out a new approach that better serves students from the moment they step on campus to the day they receive their diplomas.
The office now has six advisors focused solely on first-year students and 12 advisors assisting students from their sophomore through senior year. (Previously, the students were divided into two groups: first-year/sophomores and juniors/seniors.) The change allows a robust focus on the unique needs of many first-year students, which is often more about the transition to college life than just academics. It then gives continuity and a more holistic experience with advisors to sophomores, juniors and seniors that encompasses academics, experiential learning and career planning that puts them on an early track for success.
Three individuals in the office have recently been promoted to roles that align with these changes:
Megan Dailey was promoted to director of pre-health advising in September of 2023. She was previously the assistant director of pre-health advising. Dailey’s experience also includes working in academic advising at Moravian University, Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Virginia. In addition, she has worked in staff development and residential life at the University of Georgia and North Carolina State University. She has a bachelor’s degree in political science and English from Virginia Tech and a master’s degree in higher education administration from North Carolina State University.
Dailey’s responsibilities include supporting students who plan to apply to medical school or other health-related professional programs after receiving their bachelor’s degrees by making sure they are taking the required pre-requisites, helping them be competitive applicants and preparing them for the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test), which often can be a barrier for those interested in a medical degree.
“Many students come to school saying, ‘I am going to be a doctor,’ but they don’t understand what it takes to accomplish that,” Dailey says. “We are here to educate them and provide resources early, as well as expand awareness so that they know there are many options in the healthcare field besides medical school. I want them to know that it’s okay to change their plans or let other ideas creep in, be open to new experiences that lead to self-discovery and have an open mind as they pursue the pre-health journey.”
Laura McArdle was promoted to director of upper-class advising in November of 2023. She joined the University in 2014 as assistant director of the Center for Career Development at the Maxwell School. In 2018, she became the lead pre-law advisor for the Office of Academic and Career Advising and, before her recent promotion, was the assistant director of advising. Her experience also includes serving as the internship coordinator at the Office of Career Services at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and as assistant residence director for the University’s Office of Residence Life. She has also worked as a part-time instructor for A&S and the College of Visual and Performing Arts, as well as Onondaga Community College.
McArdle has a bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, a master’s degree in higher postsecondary education from the School of Education, a master’s degree in communications and rhetorical studies from the College of Visual and Performing Arts, and is currently working on her Ph.D. in higher education.
Her new responsibilities include overseeing a team of 12 advisors for sophomores, juniors and seniors who will see students through to graduation with a focus on academic support and career advising. McArdle’s team aims to strengthen and integrate career advising and planning conversations and encourage students to build on opportunities available to them as they choose courses, look for summer internships and network with alumni.
“The liberal arts are very versatile, and the skills our students gain can translate into a variety of professional experiences,” McArdle says. “I want them to be open to the possibilities available them and realize that most people aren’t linear in their career paths. I want students to feel empowered to pursue the academic and career experiences they desire — and, of course, build a relationship with their advisor because we are their advocates.”
Elena M. Paolini Williams was named director of first-year advising in November of 2023. She joined the office in 2017 as an academic and career advisor, working her way up to assistant director in 2019. Her past experience includes working in an academic advising capacity for student-athletes at the University of Central Florida, American University and Syracuse University.
Williams has a bachelor’s degree in family, youth and community services from the University of Florida, a master’s degree in sport administration from the University of Louisville and is currently working on a Ph.D. in higher education.
In her new position, she oversees a team of six advisors who focus on first-year students in their transition from high school to college and throughout their first year.
“Thirty to 40% of first-year students change their majors almost immediately and are often unsure how to connect their interests to a potential career. We give holistic support, help them find their place, get engaged on campus, learn about the various opportunities across the University and build positive relationships,” Williams says. “First-year students can put a lot of pressure on themselves, but we give them permission to change or adjust their path. We encourage them to meet new people, be open to new ideas and allow themselves the opportunity to fail at something — then pick themselves back up and be resilient.”
Williams was recently named as the winner of Region 1 Excellence in Advising/Advising Administrator by NACADA, the global community for academic advising. She will be recognized at an upcoming NACADA conference.
Find out more about the resources available through the Office of Academic and Career Advising.