My thanks

Greetings, colleagues. . .

This post will be my last as Faculty Advising Commission chair.  The last two years have been full of joys, challenges, accomplishments and disappointments; on balance, though, I wouldn’t trade the experience for any I’ve had with NACADA.  I really appreciate those of you who have contributed to the Commission over the last two years, whether through writing, reviewing proposals, suggesting activities, helping carry them out or in the countless other ways members have been involved.

In “passing the torch” to Dr. Kristan Venegas of the University of Southern California for the next two years, I’m filled with optimism about the future of the Faculty Advising commission and pride at the things we’ve accomplished together over the last two years.  I hope Kristan will, as commission chair, continue to benefit from your wisdom and enthusiasm for NACADA and the important role faculty advising plays in the lives of students.

My thanks and best regards. . . .


Minneapolis faculty advising sessions

Greetings, colleagues. . .

I hope many of you are making plans to attend NACADA’s upcoming annual conference in Minneapolis this October.  The Faculty Advising commission received nearly two dozen presentation proposals for the conference, and choosing which to recommend was a rewarding and challenging task.  Here are some of the sessions you’ll find at the conference this year:

  • Advising Students about Online Classes:  Questions for Success
  • Collaborating Across Disciplines:  Development and Assessment of Advising Resources
  • Faculty Advisor Training and Development:  A Blended Approach
  • Faculty Advisors’ Perceptions about Advising:  Comparing Faculty in Two Models
  • Faculty Multicultural Competence & Practices:  Lessons for Collaborative Advising
  • New Director of Advising, New Advising Centers, and New Faculty Advising Requirements:  How We Survived One Busy Year

My thanks to all the folks who helped review the presentation proposals, and my congratulations to the colleagues who were selected.  The annual conference will also include the usual Commission and Interest Group Fair, pre-conference workshops, poster session and many other opportunities to expand our knowledge and skill as advisors.  I’ll look forward to seeing many of you there!

NACADA’s strategic goals (8 of 8)

Greetings, colleagues. . .

As we conclude our discussion of NACADA’s strategic plan, let’s consider the Association’s goal to “Pursue innovative technology tools and resources to support the Association.”

Information technology tools are as ubiquitous today as air and water–and, depending on whom you ask, at least as necessary!  The Technology in Advising Commission is a central force in helping NACADA achieve its goal.  The commission’s web site states:

This commission seeks to serve as a central resource and clearinghouse for information about innovations and issues in academic advising technology. Through our commission Web site, listserv (TECADV-L), and our social media platforms including our NACADA Technology in Advising Facebook Group, on Twitter (using the hashtag #AcAdv or #AdvTech), and at national and regional conferences, we actively seek to encourage NACADA members to engage in topical discussions and activities related to the uses of technology in advising. We encourage you to check out information on this web space and our active AdvTech Wiki.

Staying abreast of technology tools and appropriately using them in advising research and practice allows NACADA members to exploit synergies and serve our students better.  Whether via blogs like this one, social media platforms or simple email, technology is an important way to expand the Association’s reach and help our advisees grow into confident, competent professionals in their respective fields.

I hope this series on NACADA’s strategic plan has been interesting and beneficial to you, and I thank  you for reading it.

NACADA’s strategic goals (7 of 8)

Greetings, colleagues. . .

In our ongoing exploration of NACADA’s strategic goals, this month we consider the penultimate in the list:  Engage in ongoing assessment of all facets of the Association.

For better or worse, “assessment” is firmly planted in the higher education landscape.  And, in the final analysis, assessment isn’t something we do solely (or even primarily) to satisfy accrediting bodies and campus administrators.  Rather, assessment gives us important information about how we’re doing; it allows us to “take the pulse” of an organization and make decisions to improve it over time.  In their outstanding article on assessment of academic advising in the NACADA Clearinghouse, Robbins and Zarges discuss many important topics, including evaluation vs. assessment, the assessment cycle and stakeholders.

NACADA assesses its operations in a variety of ways, including formal strategic plans, session evaluations at conferences and events and direct feedback from the membership.  I’ve been working with NACADA for a decade now, and I’ve rarely seen an organization more dedicated to what a colleague of mine calls “assessment–the good kind.”  And, I’ve seen the tangible results of NACADA’s assessment activities in its program offerings, organizational structure and strategic plans.

If you have thoughts on the assessment process in general, NACADA’s application of it and / or any aspect of the Association where assessment is concerned, please share them in any of the customary ways.

NACADA’s strategic goals (6 of 8)

Greetings, colleagues. . .

In this month’s post, we continue looking at NACADA’s strategic goals, with a specific focus on the goal to “develop and sustain effective Association leadership.”  Of all the professional organizations I’ve worked with in my career, NACADA is far-and-away the best at involving members, developing and equipping those interested to lead the Association when the time comes.  Consider the following thoughts about leadership:

  • If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.  (John Quincy Adams)
  • Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes. (Peter Drucker)
  • A good objective of leadership is to help those who are doing poorly to do well and to help those who are doing well to do even better.  (Jim Rohn)

NACADA offers a multitude of leadership positions, ranging from those that are very visible to the membership to those that are more “behind the scenes.”  Whether through a commission, advisory board, publication or standing committee, members who want to demonstrate their leadership skills and the value of academic advising will find plenty of opportunities through NACADA.

One of the most important tools for developing and sustaining effective Association leadership is the Emerging Leaders Program.  Both your incoming chair, Dr. Kristan Venegas, and I are “graduates” of the ELP; participating in its activities provides an outstanding (but not exclusive) path to leadership positions in the Association.

We’re all busy with our daily personal and professional lives, but NACADA is very respectful and conscious that, as a volunteer association, members must balance their commitment and desire to the Association with the demands of their “real” lives.  I encourage you to explore the leadership opportunities available in NACADA and to get involved as your schedule permits.  As always, I’m happy to dialogue about this topic with you any time; please contact me using any of the regular venues.

Faculty advising webinar

Greetings, colleagues. . .

On Thursday, 24 April 2014 at 11 a.m. PDT, I’ll be moderating an official NACADA webinar titled “Balancing Faculty Advising with Other Faculty Responsibilities.”  The webinar will be a panel discussion focusing on:

  • How academic advising factors into reappointment / tenure / promotion decisions
  • Synergies between advising and teaching / research / service
  • NACADA resources that capitalize on those synergies
  • Best practices for maintaining balance between advising responsibilities and the other demands of  faculty positions

The panel will include diverse faculty from a variety of institutions and disciplines, including:

  • Allison Hoffman, Northwest Missouri State University
  • David Boose, Gonzaga University
  • Jeanne Westgard, Salt Lake Community College
  • Nancy Dreschel, Pennsylvania State University

More information about the panelists, the webinar and the registration process is available here.  I encourage you to assemble a group of colleagues, participate in the webinar and perhaps conduct a local follow-up discussion using the questions we’ll provide (or others).  If you have questions that are not answered by the linked material, don’t hesitate to contact me in any of the usual ways.  I hope to see many of you there!

NACADA’s strategic goals (5 of 8)

Workng our way down the list of NACADA’s strategic goals, this month’s post looks at the Association’s goal to “create an inclusive environment within the Association that promotes diversity.”

In preparing this post, I came across the concept of a ‘diversity wheel.’ Here’s an example from Johns Hopkins University (


When I consider all the colleagues and friends I’ve come to know and respect through NACADA, I’m struck by the diversity of our Association. And yet, although we are diverse, we share a common goal:  helping students make the most of their college experience.

Do you have other ‘diversity markers’ to suggest beyond those in the wheel above? Would you like to share your own observations about diversity in NACADA?  If so, I encourage you to comment on this post.  Until next month, colleagues, my thanks to you for reading this post.

NACADA’s strategic goals (4 of 8)

In this month’s post, we consider the next goal from NACADA’s strategic plan: “Promote the role of effective academic advising in student success to college and university decision maker.” From my perspective, that goal has two essential elements: (a) establishing the assertion that effective academic advising contributes to student success and (b) communicating that information to decision makers.

Finding information to support the assertion that effective academic advising contributes to student success is fairly straightforward. Whether that advising focuses on major selection, course scheduling, navigating the complex maze of institutional rules, helping students deal with financial / psychological / emotional issues or balancing the demands of school / work / family, students benefit from interacting with a knowledgeable, objective third party like an advisor.

A graduate student recently came into my office for some advice. She is presently enrolled in our MBA program at Cal Poly Pomona, but is considering switching to our MS in Engineering Management. We spent some time discussing the costs and benefits of making the switch; in the end, we collaboratively arrived at an alternative that would help her achieve her goals. I’m sure you have some similar anecdotes to share; don’t hesitate to add them in the comments to this post.

Armed with the knowledge that effective academic advising contributes to student success, we must communicate that information to decision makers. Here are a few suggestions for that:

  • Ask your campus academic / faculty senate (or its equivalent) to adopt a resolution acknowledging the important role of advising in student success.
  • Create an ‘advising task force’ that can identify needs, establish priorities and suggest policy to decision makers.
  • Encourage your campus newspaper to interview advisors and students, then publish an article summarizing those interviews.

If you have additional suggestions / best practices for communicating the importance of advising to campus decision makers, I invite you to share them in the comments.

Until next month, colleagues, I wish you joy and success in the important work you do.

Videoconference slides & recording

On Friday, 31 January 2014 at 10 a.m. PST, I hosted a free one-hour webinar on academic advising.  The session addressed three main topics:  fundamental advising concepts, academic advising research and resources from NACADA.  The slides are available via Google Drive here; you do not need a Google log-in to access the slides.  Additionally, I recorded the session through Big Marker; the video is available here.

NACADA’s strategic goals (3 of 8)

Happy 2014 everyone!  I hope your holiday season was restful and enjoyable, and that your new term is (or soon will be) off to a great start.  In this month’s post, we look at NACADA’s strategic goal to “provide professional development opportunities that are responsive to the needs of advisors and advising administrators.”  One of the things I love about NACADA is the plethora of conferences, workshops, webinars and written materials it provides to help all advisors develop professionally.  According to Dr. Nancy Bell, one of the hallmarks of a professional is actively seeking additional knowledge, and NACADA supplies plenty of opportunities for us to do just that–check out the “events” page on the NACADA web site for a listing.

Everyone wishes for sufficient money in the budget to attend lots of NACADA events through the year, but very few folks have such resources.  One great, low cost way to participate in professional development with NACADA is its ongoing series of webinars.  Check out these titles of recent and upcoming webinars:

  • Emerging Issues in Academic Advising Theory
  • The Peer Advising Challenge:  Creating Meaningful Connections
  • Developing Intercultural Communication Skills for Academic Advisors
  • LGBTQA Ally Development and Advocacy Empowerment for Academic Advisors
  • Soldiers to Students: Academic Advising for Returning Veterans
  • Balancing Academic Advising with other Faculty Responsibilities

Apart from webinars, campus-based discussion groups of academic advising publications can also be a great way to engage folks in professional development around academic advising.  Whether a one-time brown bag lunch focusing on an article from the NACADA Journal, or an ongoing discussion group of a NACADA book or monograph, getting folks together on your campus to talk about academic advising is an outstanding way to fulfill your professional development needs.

If you have questions about any of NACADA’s professional development opportunities, please contact me privately via email; I’ll be happy to share what I know and help you get connected with Executive Office staff for more information.

In next month’s blog post, we’ll consider the Association’s goal to “promote the role of effective academic advising in student success to college and university decision makers.”