Podcast: SWE’s Governance Update for Faculty Advisors and Counselors

Penny Wirsing, SWE’s FY19 President, talks with Mary Beth Biddle, FY18 SWE Faculty Advisor/Counselor-Elect, about how Collegiate Faculty Advisors and Counselors will be helping with SWE’s Governance Update.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

SWE Leadership Summit Update

(Penny’s Introduction)

Hi, I’m Penny Wirsing, FY19 President of the Society of Women Engineers and this is SWE’s Diverse podcast series. Please remember to add this podcast to your iTunes and like or follow us on social media. Visit for more details.

Joining me now is Mary Beth Biddle. Mary Beth is the FY18 Faculty Advisor/Counselor-Elect and currently Counselor of Temple University.  She is also the Philadelphia Section President.  She’s going to be filling us in on how the Collegiate Faculty Advisors and Counselors will be helping with SWE transitions in the coming months.

Thanks for joining us Mary Beth.

Mary Beth
Thanks Penny, I’m happy to be here.


There are a number of changes in the coming year that will affect our collegiate members. Can you tell us about them?

Mary Beth
There are two major changes, specifically collegiates now have the right to vote in Society elections, and the geographic regions that many of us are familiar with are being dissolved. There are also a few other changes that have been underway for a while and are being fully implemented in FY18, like fully transitioning from region conferences to WE Local conferences this spring. All these changes are focused on providing a more meaningful leadership experience for our members.

I understand collegiate sections have assigned faculty advisors and counselors. What are the expectations of the relationship between collegiate members and their faculty advisors and counselors?

Mary Beth
These relationships are different at every school, but all advisors and counselors are expected to coach and advise the section, support award and scholarship applications, and encourage leadership positions within SWE; there should be a constant flow of communication.

A faculty advisor should be the liaison between the SWE section and the college of engineering and the university, and is responsible for knowing university policies.  They can help with things like access to university resources and ensuring the section is meeting all the university requirements.

On the other hand, a counselor is the liaison between the SWE section and other SWE members, as well as industry. They are responsible for understanding SWE’s requirements and policies. They can also help collegiates understand the benefits of remaining involved in SWE after graduation.  The counselor must be a SWE member and must be elected by the collegiate section each year; in fact, this position is required by SWE in order for a collegiate section to be in “good standing”. These same requirements don’t apply to faculty advisors, but sections should work with their universities to understand their policies.

Overall, collegiate section vitality and success can be achieved if there is strong communication between the collegiate members, the faculty advisor, and the counselor.

What specifically can faculty advisors and counselors do to help with the transitions in the coming year

Mary Beth
Faculty advisors and counselors can make themselves more familiar with all the resources SWE has to offer to collegiate sections.  From webinars to the Leadership Coaching Committee to sharing best practices with other sections, the faculty advisors and counselors have access to a wealth of knowledge that they can tap into in supporting the collegiate sections.

Advisors and counselors can also make sure they are encouraging their sections to hold their leadership transition meetings as early as possible. This will ensure a smooth transfer of information and responsibilities, and help keep things from getting lost in the hand-off.  In some cases, the advisor or counselor may want to facilitate these discussions.

Will faculty advisors and counselors themselves be affected by these changes? Are we making any changes in the roles and training for counselors and advisors?

Mary Beth
Faculty Advisors and Counselors will be the primary contact for collegiate sections; they will be called upon to provide guidance for their sections that may have come from Region Collegiate Teams in the past.  Moving forward, SWE wants to enhance the relationship between collegiate sections and their faculty advisors and counselors to be able to provide more support to the sections. They will be responsible for providing guidance and answers to many of the questions sections may have, and understanding who to reach out to within SWE for additional support.  The Leadership Coaching Committee, or LCC, has also expanded to help support section vitality.  The LCC coach assigned to each school will be a fantastic resource for collegiate members as well as the faculty advisors and counselors.

At this time, there are no formal changes to the roles of advisors and counselors, but we are planning to update and tailor the training they receive.

Speaking of training, we have heard that our community would like more training on topics such as knowledge of SWE, fundraising, mentorship, and more.  SWE already has content on these topics, so Advisor/Counselor Coordinator Diane Peters and I will be developing a plan to better disseminate this existing information, and to evaluate how well it is meeting the needs of the group.

Thanks, Mary Beth. I appreciate all the information. Do you have any final thoughts?

Mary Beth
Thanks, Penny. I just want to thank those listening to this podcast to learn more about how they can help the collegiate sections with the transition.


To find out more about the Governance Update, go to or email your questions to For periodic updates via text, text “SWE Governance” to 56512.  You can also contact me at or Collegiate Director Ingrid Arambula at

Mary Beth is the FY18 Faculty Advisor/Counselor Coordinator-Elect and current Philadelphia SWE president.

Mary Beth, thanks for participating in SWE’s Diverse podcast series.

For SWE, I’m Penny Wirsing. Thanks for listening!

Scroll to Top