New undergrad advisor brings fresh perspective

Jason Jacobson, the new director of Undergraduate Advising Center at SF State, talked about his past career achievements and future plans as students piled up at the advising center to seek out assistance in navigating their paths to graduation.

Jacobson left his position as the retention and academic success coordinator of the Thunderbird academic program at Arizona State University where he worked for about two years before coming to SF State. As director of the Undergraduate Advising Center, Jacobson’s responsibilities include assisting undergraduate students of all majors with general education requirements, academic probation, declaring majors and providing an unobstructed pathway to graduation. He is also in charge of making sure the staff has all the resources they need in order to effectively meet students’ needs.

Jason Jacobson speaks with UAC counselors, Donovan Ramos and Kate Zuby in the administration building at SF State on Thursday, August 31, 2017. (Mitchell Mylius/Golden Gate Xpress)

“He has tremendous insights, able to create programs and processes to better serve students and staff alike,” Jacobson’s former boss at ASU, Catherine Kerrey, said. “He’s also a system person, he has great understanding of what the needs are and he’s able to figure out the most efficient and effective ways to meet those needs.” Kerrey is the executive director of the new college of interdisciplinary arts and sciences.

Jacobson earned his Bachelor’s degree in communications studies at Macalester College, a private liberal arts college located in his hometown, Saint Paul, Minnesota. Shortly after, Jacobson moved to Boston, where he lived for six years to work at MIT’s department of brain and cognitive sciences as an undergraduate administrator. There, he gained experience in advising and got involved in curriculum building as well as faculty training.

While living in Boston, Jacobson also attended Suffolk University where he earned his Master’s degree in education with a focus on higher education administration. Thereafter, he moved back to Minnesota to work as an assistant director of centralized advising unit at Hamline University. He also worked at University of Minnesota as director of individualized degrees program where he gained experience designing majors and curriculum with students.

“My first impression of Jason is that he is someone who really cares about students,” SF State’s associate dean of undergraduate education Kim Altura said.  “He wants to work collaboratively with the advisors in the Undergraduate Advising Center to build upon the advising services offered on campus while keeping student needs at the forefront of all we do.”

Jacobson is joining SF State with over sixteen years of experience working with undergraduate advising. He said that his proudest career achievement so far was being involved with the growth of ASU’s global management program. When Jacobson started at ASU in 2015, the program had twenty four students. After two years of hard work, the program garnered about 175 students.

“I’m proud because it was a fun time to be a part of a program when it’s at its inception, when its growing,” Jacobson said. “The big thing that I spent a lot of time on in that program is working really closely with the study abroad office to identify programs so that if students wanted to study abroad for a semester, we knew exactly which courses they can take in order to satisfy their program requirements so they didn’t fall behind.”

Jason Jacobson poses for a portrait in the administration building at SF State on Thursday, August 31, 2017. (Mitchell Mylius/Golden Gate Xpress)

As a result of this well-articulated course substitution policies, some students were able to go to two or three countries.

At SF State, Jacobson also wants to put an emphasis on ensuring that his team’s efforts are being acknowledged so that advisors can better serve students.

“I am a fairly new and young professional and I feel like my professional development will grow with Jason,” academic advisor Donovan Ramos said. “He has already given me pointers about certain professional development processes and it makes me excited for more.”

This semester at SF State, Jacobson plans on learning about the University’s policies, the departments and different people in different unites. As for his plans for the school year, he wants to focus on the CSU-wide endeavor called graduation initiative 2025. A big part of this initiative is adding multiple advising in different programs, which is something Jacobson looks forward to.

Over the next year, Jason will be assisting with the hire of fourteen new academic advisors who will be coming on board to better meet the needs of our students,” Altura said. “He will also be working to launch an online appointment system in the Undergraduate Advising Center, and he will assist with the rollout of the new Advising Hub.

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