|Thursday, February 17, 2000||
Volume 65, Issue 97
Smith honors Asian-American Studies program
lets students escape red tape
By Eric M. Law
College students rarely have an opportunity to interact one-on-one with the administration at their universities, leading to presidents, provosts, deans and other top-ranking officials' being called "unapproachable."
But the UH System at Fort Bend is trying to find a way around this with "Clara Naughton," a virtual administrator available to students 24 hours a day via the Internet.
Clara actually is a top administrator at Fort Bend who, for obvious reasons, wants to remain anonymous and uphold the confidentiality of this program.
"Clara is like my virtual alter-ego," the administrator said.
The idea for Clara came when the campus' Web site was being re-designed. "I wanted a better way for students to voice opinions and complaints," the administrator said. "Administrators usually want to make a difference, but find themselves separated from student needs by hierarchy -- Clara helps me bridge that gap."
Officials said they have been very pleased with student response to the service.
"Such a small satellite campus like UHS-Fort Bend has made an innovation for creative student involvement," said Mason Dooley, a professor at Fort Bend.
Clara accepts problems, suggestions, opinions and praise from students
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