Meet the Newest Advisor at the Newnan Academic Advising Center: Maizey

With the introduction of U-M’s custom generative artificial intelligence tools last year, the possibilities of their applications got a lot of wheels turning on campus. One of the offices that saw an almost immediate use for Maizey, which provides a custom UM-GPT based on a provided dataset, was the Newnan Academic Advising Center in LSA

Offering general, pre-health, pre-law and student success advising services for LSA, Newnan serves almost 19,000 students and advises on general requirements such as skills and distribution, language requirements, and more. Despite offering in-person advising and 1:1 virtual drop-in advising (supported by ITS), it can still be difficult to provide students with accessible support as advising is not required at Michigan. Enter Maizey.

After hearing about Maizey being used in the classroom, Perry Fittrer, assistant dean for undergraduate education and student academic affairs, and the team at Newnan shifted their attention from third-party chatbot tools to creating their own UM-GPT that used Newnan’s website to answer questions about general advising. Utilizing a program provided by ITS, the team at Newnan scraped their web pages and provided Maizey with the consolidated information, a more manageable project than mapping a traditional chatbot. After undergoing testing with the Newnan staff and a select group of students, the tool went live earlier this semester.

According to Dr. Rose Tahash, associate director of advising operations, Maizey has the potential to provide more accessible and equitable support, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I think it is an important opportunity for students to engage in a way that might be different from traditional advising of the past, especially pre-COVID, because a lot of institutions would never have considered virtual advising.” She goes on to say, “I appreciate that, for students who would want to engage in a nontraditional way and still be able to get help, [Maizey] provides that opportunity.”

As is true with all generative AI tools, the Newnan Academic Advising Center’s Maizey is not expected to be a perfect solution. Dr. Tahash and the advisors at Newnan still prefer to meet with students in person, building relationships and tailoring advice to each individual student, and they’ve incorporated that belief into the Newnan Maizey. At the end of each response provided by Maizey, the querier is encouraged to reach out to an academic advisor for more personalized support, with the GPT even providing specific information based on the content of the original query. 

As information changes on Newnan’s website, the team plans to reindex Maizey periodically in order to ensure users are getting the most up-to-date information. 

The Newnan Academic Advising Center in LSA’s use of Maizey is an amazing example of how U-M’s custom generative AI tools are already making a difference across campus. Learn more about Maizey on the GenAI website and try out the custom advising Maizey on Newnan’s website.