Amidst all the typical commotion raised by the start of a new school year, important administrative news from Case Western Reserve University may have gone largely unnoticed by many people: The university is currently in the process of hiring a new pre-medical (pre-med) advisor to replace Dean Steven Scherger.
Scherger, who has served as Director of Health Career Advising at CWRU since 2011, will step down from that role once a suitable candidate is hired to replace him. He will, however, continue to advise students who are thinking of pursuing non-medical careers in health care, and will also be serving as a new assistant dean to upperclassmen.
His successor will take over his old job, but will focus exclusively on advising pre-med students.
Such a major shake-up is certain to turn heads at CWRU, a school where a considerable amount of student body is pursuing the pre-med track.
Scherger, however, who until now has been the sole advisor for all students looking to pursue any sort of health-related career—medical or otherwise—welcomes the change, and dismisses any concerns about the new advisor being potentially overwhelmed by the number of pre-meds he or she will have to deal with.
“Students still have their faculty advisors and undergraduate deans to assist them with other academic matters,” he said.
“This new position is an improvement, as in the past I was responsible for working with all pre-health students. Now, the new [advisor] will work exclusively with the pre-med students, while I will continue working with the other pre-health students alongside my responsibilities as the new upper-class dean to students whose last names end with C to E.”
In other words, not only will the current undertaking provide the university with a special liaison just for pre-meds, it will also free up Scherger to take on an additional role as an upperclass dean, thereby reducing the overall load on the other deans.
Scherger’s confidence in the benefits of the move is widely shared by the administration. According to Jeffrey Wolcowitz, dean of Undergraduate Studies, a major goal of the decision to bring in a separate advisor for pre-med students is to lighten the burden of both Scherger and his successor.
“We [will be able to] add another dean in the office to work with upperclass students, [and] to reduce the student-to-dean ratio, so that we can do a better job with students,” he said.
In addition, Wolcowitz stressed the fact that the new system would be noticeably more efficient. “[Scherger’s successor] will be able to work with pre-med students in a more focused way,” he explained.
“By adding [this] position in the office, we are devoting more resources both to working with upperclass students generally, as well as to working with students interested in health careers.”
Wolcowitz looks forward to the final selection of the new pre-med advisor. “I think we’re going to see this person come up, as a professional, and be a participant able to help us in developing the [new] position,” he opined, indicating that any potential future changes to the pre-med advising system at CWRU have not yet been finalized.
“I don’t want to say at this point that ‘this is exactly what we’re going to do differently,’” said Wolcowitz. “Because I want the [new] person to bring his or her own creativity to the position and help us think about how we can better serve students.”
This uncertainty also extends to the start date of the new replacement candidate. “We are [still] in the midst of the process right now,” clarified Wolcowitz, “It will probably be complete sometime between the end of this semester and the start of the spring semester.”
As for any possibly jittery pre-meds who may be wondering how all of this will affect them, Wolcowitz is soothing.
“Dean Scherger will continue in his current role until the new advisor takes over,” he said.
“He will also continue to work with seniors who are currently applying to medical school. And we are continuing to provide the same services [that we always have], and once the hiring process is complete, we will be able to devote more resources to all students.”