Deborah Stevenson, Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Academic Advising

Deborah Stevenson, Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Academic Advising (Image credit: Harry Gregory)

Deborah Stevenson recently joined the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education (VPUE) as its new associate vice provost and dean of academic advising. Stevenson says advisors play a key role in helping students become empowered to learn independently and thrive academically, by supporting them with course selection, choosing a major, exploring research opportunities, and more. Here she shares more about her role and how academic advising supports students and faculty.


What advice do you have for students who don’t know what they want to major in or who are trying to decide? How about for students who already feel certain?

Stanford is a place where you can pursue your chosen major while exploring your passion and interests. We encourage students to learn about things they love even if what they’re learning doesn’t obviously relate to their major.

Students, spend time with your academic advisor, take courses that spark your curiosity, talk to your professors and instructors, visit Career Education, and connect with Stanford alumni. You don’t need to have it all figured out in your first quarter or even your first year.


What’s unique about how advising works at Stanford?

I feel so fortunate to have joined a team that cares so deeply for our undergraduate students. One of the very first staff members a new first-year and transfer student meets when joining the Stanford community is their academic advisor, who is typically in touch before students even set foot on campus for their first quarter. Our advisors work with the full range of undergrads – including transfers and student-athletes – and also have offices within the neighborhood residences so students have exceptionally easy access throughout their academic journey. Many students tell us how important and valuable their advisor becomes in helping them unpack all the many Stanford offerings and figure out what academic pathway feels right to them.

“We encourage students to learn about things they love even if what they’re learning doesn’t obviously relate to their major.”

—Deborah Stevenson

Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Academic Advising

What tools and resources are available to faculty who might be concerned about a student’s academic well-being?

The Academic Advising website is full of great information for students and faculty. I would say don’t be afraid to approach a student who appears to be in distress and ask if they are OK. Your kindness and compassion may be just what the student needs and you are very important in the referral process of students who are struggling. We encourage any member of the community to reach out via email to or call us at 650-723-2426.


What’s the difference between academic advising offered by your team and major advising?

Stanford students are regularly engaging with their academic advisors. Our advisors are familiar with requirements for majors and minors as well as research opportunities, study away offerings, and policies and procedures across Stanford. And they understand and can support the unique needs of our first-year, pre-professional, and transfer students as well as our student-athletes. Once students choose a major, they’ll connect with a major advisor within that department who is an excellent additional resource. The major advisor becomes part of the student’s success team, expanding access to great support.


What advice do you have for frosh and first-year transfers new to Stanford?

Lean into the excitement, but also into the occasional discomfort and disappointment. Become expert time managers and perfect your help-seeking behaviors. Be OK with some failure – it makes you an interesting and relatable person. And welcome! You belong here.