External panel tackles Career Services review
By Alina Gonzalez, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Thursday, April 10, 2008
For the first time, Dartmouth Career Services is drawing on an expert panel of parents, employers, alumni and prominent officials at prestigious universities across the country to evaluate the department's effectiveness.
Career Services initiates an internal departmental review process every three years, Director of Career Services Skip Sturman said, but this year is the first external review, which Sturman hopes will be "the most comprehensive in recent history."
The review panel came to Dartmouth on Wednesday and is scheduled to remain in Hanover through Friday to meet with College President James Wright and other administrators, faculty, admissions officers and students. The external review team is expected to submit a written report to the College by mid-May, Sturman said.
Dean of the College Tom Crady originally encouraged Career Services to expand its review process to include external input.
"We had an internal, long-range planning group that had been meeting for several months, and then [Crady] came in and embraced the idea," Sturman said. "He would really like to see this kind of external review become standard protocol for every department in the Student Affairs Division."
Most department reviews at Grinnell College, where Crady formerly served as vice president of student services, were conducted externally, Crady said.
"It's a fairly common practice to conduct reviews of student affairs departments every few years," Crady said. "It's something I plan to implement here, because students change, and their use patterns change, and we want to make sure we are responding to their needs."
The Career Services review is intended to find concrete ways the department can work better for Dartmouth students, Sturman said.
"This is an educational opportunity to engage the best minds in the realm of career planning who can, over a two-day period, really look at some of the obstacles facing career departments both at Dartmouth and across the country," Sturman said.
Prior to the review, Career Services submitted a set of questions for the panel to consider, including: "Is Career Services allocating resources equitably in support of diverse student occupational needs?" "Given its current level of staffing and funding, what baseline services should the department be offering students?" and "What would Career Services need to change in terms of resource allocation to offer a more optimal level of service?"
Sturman would also like the panel to address how the department can make its services more visible to students, whether Career Services should be expected to serve only undergraduates and how well the department is responding to "growing expectations for customized service," he said.
The team will consult with Dartmouth faculty and administrators from a wide range of departments and organizations including the Hopkins Center for the Arts and the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding.
"There are going to be a lot of different opportunities to meet with people from every different discipline with a variety of different perspectives," Sturman said. "My staffers are joking we forgot to include the UPS man in this process."
Career Services has also been conducting multiple surveys over the past year to provide the review committee with some statistics. They sent out a "benchmarking" survey to twenty comparable schools and a Campus Colleagues Survey to 85 faculty and administrators around campus. In addition, the department used internal staff evaluations as well as a widely disseminated Class of 2006 senior survey.
Sheila Curran, executive director of Duke University's Career Center and mother to a member of the Dartmouth Class of 2003, is leading the external review team. Curran has directed external reviews for schools in the past, most recently at Willamette University and Emory University. Curran is familiar with the challenges facing college career centers today, Sturman said.
"She is one of the most forward-thinking and innovative people in our field," Sturman said.
Other team members include Doug Sacks '80, manager of the Goldman Sachs recruiting program on campus and a parent of a member of the Class of 2010, Rebecca Sparrow, director of Cornell University Career Services since January 2003, and Lee Ann Michelson, Ph.D., health careers advisor at Harvard University's Office of Career Services.