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Voices of the Global Community


Rebecca Cofer, Advising Communities Division Representative, 2016-2018
Kyle Ross, Advising Communities Division Representative, 2017-2019
Rebecca Hapes, Advising Communities Division Representative, 2018-2020
Dawn Krause, Advising Communities Division Liaison

ACD team.jpgAt the 2017 Annual Conference, the Commission and Interest Group Division (CIGD) proposed a restructure that was approved by the CIG Chairs, Council, and Board of Directors of NACADA.  The Division is now the newly restructured Advising Communities Division (ACD).  The division has successfully merged commissions and interest groups into the same unit to provide consistency, foster sustainable leadership, and better address the needs of the association’s entire membership.  In the ACD, we are excited to officially roll out our Advising Communities at the 2018 Annual Conference in Phoenix!

What does this mean for NACADA members? 

  • The group names are different.
  • Expectations of all groups are now the same.
  • Elected chairs will eventually be in place for all groups.
  • Every group will have the ability to sponsor sessions at annual conferences.
  • All groups will have more opportunities for voting and engagement.
  • Groups will be reviewed annually for relevance to members and the field of academic advising.

Why restructure (again)?  Why Advising Communities? 

Members were confused with the two types of groups in the CIG Division, and inadvertently, the commissions were being viewed as higher level than interest groups.  In fact, an interest group was an opportunity for members to informally gather around an advising topic or population and could be a stepping stone toward becoming a commission if there was enough engagement, scholarship, and active leadership in place to work toward the commission status. However, the disparity remained and negatively affected leadership overall.  Managing the division with two sets of requirements spread among 44 groups was cumbersome.

With the new ACD, there is alignment of the mission and requirements of both commission and interest groups under one umbrella.  Members will simply choose a group that aligns with their primary student population(s) and institutional types, rather than wonder about the differences between group types.  While Advising Communities address members’ professional interests, they are not designed as support groups. Leadership in the division was viewed as inequitable, which impacted the ability of some groups to attract and retain dynamic leaders that could move the unit forward in delivery of topically relevant resources to members. The term community is more inclusive and better encapsulates the mission of the division moving forward.

A Timeline of Restructuring

  • From the inception of commissions in 1992 and then interest groups in 1994, the CIGD allowed a large association to become smaller for the members, as these groups offered a more intimate outlet for involvement.
  • Clusters and the Steering Committee Members overseeing these groups (now termed Cluster Representatives) were formed in 2011 under Council members David Spight and Lisa Peck.  Clustering groups with similarities under the guidance of an experienced CIGD leader provided more direct engagement with chairs and enhanced communication.  An added benefit of the Clusters, with their representative Cluster Representatives, was the active development of future division leadership.  This is still very much a part of ACD!
  • Following the 2016 Annual Conference, Board and Council members met to discuss the needs of the association and overwhelmingly voted that the CIGD needed rethinking.  The CIGD evaluation process began when Erin Justyna and Rebecca Cofer submitted their Division Unit Report in November of 2016.The restructure concept centered largely on the need for equality and transparency in the division.
  • From December 2016 to August 2017, the division worked on various elements of the restructure process using mini task forces of member volunteers and stakeholders to work on specific details.  Task forces researched, analyzed, and then refined proposals for target areas of analysis of the CIGD and outlined necessary changes.
  • In August of 2017, the CIGD leaders sent this document to the Division for feedback and then brought it up for vote at the Annual Conference in October of that same year.  The Division Chairs, Council, and Board of Directors all unanimously voted in favor of the proposed restructure at their respective Annual Conference meetings in October of 2017.
  • At the mid-year meeting of the Board of Directors and Council held in March of 2018, further approval of funding for all ACD leaders to attend the Advising Communities Division meeting at Annual Conference was approved and the decision then went for final approval by the Finance Committee in May of 2018.  All Advising Community Chairs, as well as all incoming chairs within the ACD, were approved for future travel fund reimbursement.

Current Restructure Processes

While the initial proposal to create the ACD was approved at the 2017 Annual Conference, there is still work to be done following the restructure.  The ACD Steering Committee has been working diligently on several critical issues this year:

  • A new process has reduced the time it takes for members to establish a new Advising Community, but there are now more requirements.  
  • The division is large, consisting of over 40 Advising Communities.  To ensure consistency, we created a rubric for self-evaluation of chairs and a rubric to monitor the activity of each Advising Community.  As topics fluctuate in the field of advising, the need for an Advising Community around that topic can also change.  Therefore, there is now a system in place to archive Advising Communities to better address the fluctuating needs and interests of the membership.
  • Under the CIGD, commissions were responsible for evaluating session proposals for annual conferences and each Commission Chair could sponsor up to three sessions to guarantee their acceptance.  Now that all Advising Communities will be responsible for evaluating session proposals for annual conferences, it is no longer realistic for each chair to sponsor three proposals.  Starting with the 2019 Annual Conference, Advising Community Chairs can sponsor up to two sessions after all proposals are reviewed and accepted.  They will continue to be highlighted in the conference program.
  • Interest Group Chairs could serve in that capacity indefinitely, while Commission Chairs were elected to their positions in two-year terms.  Going forward, half of Advising Communities that were formerly interest groups will enter the 2019–2021 election cycle, and the remaining half will enter the 2020–2022 election cycle.  The ACD Steering Committee encourages eligible members to consider running for these positions, as it is a great way to give back to the association and step into a formal NACADA leadership role.Information on the 2019–2021 election cycle can be found here.

Moving Forward

So what do all of these changes mean for members moving forward?  As members select Advising Community choices on their NACADA membership and/or renewal forms, the names will now appear with community in the title.  This change also means there will be additional opportunities for elected leadership within all of these groups.  All Advising Communities will have elected chairs, and members of the groups will be engaged in the voting process.  As such, the ACD Steering Committee encourages members to please be intentional about selection of the four groups allotted upon membership (or renewal).  Members may log in to their myNACADA site to make modifications to choices if their job functions or interests necessitate a change.

Participation in the NACADA Annual Conference and Beyond

Some suggestions for engagement in the upcoming NACADA Annual Conference relative to these division changes include the following:

  • Go to Advising Community business meetings!  Each Advising Community has a brief description of their business meeting in the Annual Conference program.  Some even post the agenda as a handout prior to the event.  Here members can become more engaged in their four chosen groups and as a member, maybe put up a hand to join an Advising Community Steering Committee or put forth an idea for a future goal for the group.  Attending a meeting is the best way to stay engaged with the work of Advising Communities.
  • Go to the ACD Fair.  This is the only time at the NACADA Annual Conference when all Advising Communities are in one room and members can look for groups to join.  Each Advising Community describes their mission, resources for members of their group, and current goals/projects.  If members want to learn more about any of the existing Advising Communities, this is the place to be!
  • Subscribe to an Advising Community LISTSERV (each community has one!) or join their social media platform.  Though members are limited to choosing four Advising Communities for voting purposes, the LISTSERVS and social media accounts are open to anyone interested.
  • Pursue leadership within an Advising Community.  There are opportunities for individuals to engage within each Advising Community in various ways including steering committees, workgroups, and proposal readers for annual conferences, just to name a few.  Additionally, all Advising Communities will now elect their chair every two years, providing additional opportunities for elected leadership positions.  Additional information on getting involved within the ACD can be found here.

The ACD believes that members will have a better experience as a result of this restructure process.  We are very appreciative of the Division leaders, Council, Board of Directors, and Executive Office in their support of these processes and flexibility through this transition.  Particularly, none of this would have been possible without the tremendous foresight, vision, leadership, and efforts of past Division Representative Erin Justyna and outgoing Division Representative Rebecca Cofer.  Many thanks to these dynamic and dedicated leaders! 

Regardless of how members choose to become engaged within the Advising Communities, in the ACD, we are excited to share these changes and move forward with everyone!

Rebecca Cofer, Advising Communities Division Representative, 2016–2018
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising
Coordinator, Campus Tutoring Services
Academic Support
Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College

Rebecca Hapes, Advising Communities Division Representative, 2018–2020
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising
Senior Academic Advisor II
Department of Entomology
Texas A&M University

Dawn Krause, Advising Communities Division Liaison
Content Program Coordinator
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising

Kyle Ross, Advising Communities Division Representative, 2017–2019
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising
Academic Coordinator
College of Nursing
Washington State University

Cite this article using APA style as: Cofer, R., Ross, K., Hapes, R., & Krause, D. (2018, September). Advising communities: From CIGD to ACD and into the future. Academic Advising Today, 41(3). Retrieved from [insert url here] 


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Academic Advising Today, a NACADA member benefit, is published four times annually by NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. NACADA holds exclusive copyright for all Academic Advising Today articles and features. For complete copyright and fair use information, including terms for reproducing material and permissions requests, see Publication Guidelines.