Lead UDR Advisory Board acts as bridge between UDR’s and faculty

October 25, 2019

When looking for advice on classes, there are always many options around campus and resources who are able to provide assistance. Whether it be your academic advisor, a Roosevelt Fellow or Undergraduate Departmental Representative (UDR), all these resources are here to make your class decision-making process easier. 

Within the UDR program, select UDR’s have been chosen to serve as “Lead UDRs” to serve on an advisory board. There is one Lead UDR for each School of Arts and Sciences Division (Creative Arts, Humanities, Sciences and Social Sciences) as at-large Lead UDR, Joan Tarkulich, the program administrator for the UDR program, told The Brandeis Hoot in an interview. Each of these Lead UDRs meet with the faculty lead of each division and work toward integrating all the departments and programs under their division. 

Renee Korgood ’20, a second year UDR for the politics department and the Lead UDR for the Division of Social Science, decided to apply to become a UDR because she really enjoys helping students and actively wanted to make the politics department more visible on campus. “As someone who’s interested in not only national but also state politics, people usually have one-sided views,” Korgood told The Hoot in an interview. “I am hoping to expand the politics program’s profile and how politics is seen at Brandeis.” 

Fox Baudelaire ’20, a second year UDR for the biological physics department and the Lead UDR for the Division of Science, also saw that there is a need to make the UDR program more visible. “I saw that there was room for improvement and its mission,” he said in an interview. 

The Lead UDR Advisory Board was created to create a stronger line of communication between each division head and UDRs, said Elaine Wong, the senior associate dean for undergraduate education. The board also came out of a conversation in the undergraduate academic advising working group within the task force on the undergraduate experience in President Ron Liebowitz’s Framework for Our Future. “A student member of the committee, who was a UDR while he was at Brandeis, suggested that it would be helpful” to build a program that better integrates students with faculty and staff, Wong said. 

Tarkulich added that the Lead UDR Advisory Board allows UDRs “to build a smaller community within the bigger program,” she said. “It is starting to bring a focus to looking at the UDR program as a whole and having more student leadership in the program. Ideas will now be coming from and being executed by the students themselves, without as much oversight from the dean’s office.” 

Korgood finds the most fulfilling part about being a UDR the ability to help “students find an enjoyable path or major and take courses that fulfill interests or taking courses that may interest them that they would not have known about without speaking with me,” she told The Hoot. 

“I wanted to go above and beyond, and I wanted there to be a greater sense of community [in the UDR program],” Baudelaire told The Hoot about why he wanted to apply for the Lead UDR Advisory Board. 

Korgood added that she applied for the advisory board because she liked being a UDR and wanted to be in a greater peer advisory position on campus. “I have learned a lot about being a UDR: communication, event planning and working with professors and faculty members who might not have time to figure out an event to plan,” she told The Hoot. “I wanted to pass along what I had learned, especially to new UDRs, who may not know some things about the department that they are UDRs for.” 

The UDR program has not seen major changes since the Lead UDR Advisory Board was formed, since the program is so new, but the program is working towards bringing more cohesion with different departments. “We are just trying to bring everyone together,” Korgood told The Hoot. “Lots of departments have done collaborative activities, but we think there can be more collaboration but with more coordination as well.”

The Lead UDR Advisory Board meet with Wong and Tarkulich each week and also with the faculty head of their respective divisions. “We work with other Lead UDRs working on initiatives to improve the student experience and streamline the UDR program,” Korgood told The Hoot. 

Tarkulich also spoke about how they are hoping to expand the reach of the UDR program and have a representative for every program on campus. There are 125 UDRs currently employed for the 2019-2020 academic school year. Applications for the UDR program open in the late spring semester. Students interested in being a part of Lead UDR Advisory Board must have served as a UDR for at least a year prior to applying. 

Editor’s Note: Editor-in-Chief Polina Potochevska ’20 is a UDR for the Russian studies department.

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