Danesh stresses advising, ACES improvements

Junior Kaveh Danesh, who served as vice president for academic affairs this year, is running uncontested for a second term in 2011.
Junior Kaveh Danesh, who served as vice president for academic affairs this year, is running uncontested for a second term in 2011.

Junior Kaveh Danesh is running uncontested for Duke Student Government vice president for academic affairs for the second consecutive year.

Danesh said as vice president this year, he worked to get students outside of DSG involved in academic issues, enact virtual course synopses and improve pre-major advising.

“A lot [of] things that I’ve started were things that I’m passionate about, and I’ve really enjoyed pushing for better things for students,” Danesh said. “I felt that I should run again.”

Danesh’s colleagues touted his leadership skills and accomplishments as vice president.

DSG Executive Vice President Pete Schork, a junior, has worked extensively with Danesh this year and said he possesses all of the qualities of a great leader.

“He’s always been a great visionary, but this year he’s learned how to put his ideas into action,” said Schork, who is running for president this year. “He’s done a really great job of working with administrators to come up with benchmarks for his projects, and his advising model will fundamentally change how freshmen interact with their coursework.”

Danesh said he is particularly excited about working to implement “virtual course synopses,” or two-minute video clips of professors describing courses in place of written summaries on ACES.

“It would be great if every course had a video of the professor telling students how you will see the world in a different way after taking the class,” he said. “I think this would foster an excitement around courses and excitement around how people think about their education.”

Last semester, Danesh wrote a report on how to improve pre-major advising and presented a four-part framework for advising that includes encouraging academic exploration, matching students with the right adviser, teaching incoming freshmen how to work ACES and making course registration more intuitive. Next year, the project will be his primary focus.

“When I was a freshman signing up for courses, I was very surprised that nobody reached out to me to help me pick my courses,” he said. “It’s not feasible for us to hire new advisers, so it’s important for us to work with what we have right now.”

In order to reach out to students before they set foot on campus, Danesh wants to post videos of different advisers and deans discussing academic opportunities. He added that he believes Duke students who have a strong understanding of the curriculum should attend send-off parties to talk with incoming freshmen.

Speaking broadly, Danesh said he wants to cultivate excitement from students about shaping their own educations.

“I feel that people don’t think from the onset... how they’re trying to shape their educational development,” he said. “I want to link different experiences like DukeEngage and study abroad for people to see the relationship between all of these opportunities that Duke has for them to craft their own stories while moving through their four years here.”

Danesh said his excitement and passion for Duke academics will help him succeed as vice president.

“I’m constantly thinking about how to change the face of Duke academics,” Danesh said. “This is a lifestyle for me, and I think that’s the best quality I have.”

Noah Pickus, head of the Academic Integrity Council and Nannerl O. Keohane director of the Kenan Institute for Ethics, said he has enjoyed working with Danesh throughout their time on the council. This year, the AIC focused on expanding the survey it conducts every five years to illuminate student attitudes toward academic integrity.

“Kaveh was a first-rate participant whose comments on the draft surveys were sharply observed and enormously helpful,” Pickus wrote in an email. “As we review the results of the survey, I’m certain his views will continue to be highly regarded by faculty, administrators and his peers.”

Schork said Danesh’s accomplishments may be the reason why nobody is challenging Danesh for the position.

“Being a vice president for academic affairs is pretty daunting, and I think that there was a collective realization among people in his committee and in DSG that he’s just absolutely the best for the job,” Schork said. “I think it’s a testament to what he’s started this year.”


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