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Voices of the Global Community


Charlie Nutt, NACADA Executive Director

Charlie Nutt.jpgThis year, our association, NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising, celebrates its 40th Anniversary. There had been two national academic advising conferences held in 1977 (Burlington, Vermont) and in 1978 (Memphis, TN). It was at the 1978 conference that the new association was officially named the National Academic Advising Association prior to its charter being legally adopted in May 1979, with a charter membership of 429. The first conference as a legal association occurred in October 1979 in Omaha, Nebraska. While the National Academic Advising Association had long recognized the importance of our Canadian members and institutions by including them in our 10-region structure, in 2006 the NACADA Board of Directors made a strong commitment to becoming a global association by officially changing the association’s tagline to NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising, with our legal name changing a few years later.

There are so many important historical steps in our association’s growth and influence in higher education that in my short article it will be easy to leave something out, so I want to focus on some important themes that we are celebrating in our Past, our Present, and our Future.

  • NACADA has from its very beginning been a member-driven association. All decisions concerning the association’s strategic goals and services for our members are made by volunteer leaders who are elected by the membership at large or appointed by the NACADA President or Board of Directors. This is very important because in our 40 years as an association it has been the membership who has decided what our association will be and how the association advances student success through its focus on academic advising.
  • From our very beginning, our association has been focused on contributing to the field of academic advising through the creation of important publications such as Academic Advising Today, the NACADA Journal, and the NACADA Review. Through these publications and the creation of the NACADA Research Committee, our leaders and members have demonstrated a strong desire for the association to be not only a networking group but also to be a group focused on changing higher education significantly through providing evidence of the impact that quality academic advising has on students.
  • Our association has celebrated the diversity in the field of academic advising in higher education. Our membership reflects the broadest constituencies of members in any higher education association, including primary role advisors, teaching faculty who advise, administrators of all levels including presidents and chancellors, counselors, career advisors, student success personnel of all types, and graduate students. Just as academic advising touches all aspects of a student’s life, our association has reflected the various types of academic advisors across higher education globally and worked to bring them together to enhance the academic advising experiences of all students.
  • Our association has recognized that we are strengthened by providing our members the opportunity to be very active in our 10 regions and in our over 40 Academic Advising Communities. The very strong regions and academic advising communities do not divide or dilute our association but instead make our association more connected to those in the field across the globe.
  • Regardless of its structure and size during our history, the NACADA Board of Directors has always been focused on providing our members and leaders with the best support possible to build a strong and effective association while at the same time recognizing that our volunteer leaders have full-time jobs at campuses across the world. In 1990, the NACADA Board of Directors partnered with Kansas State University’s College of Education under the leadership of Dean Michael Holen to create the NACADA Executive Office. This unique and highly collaborative partnership has enabled the association to have an Executive Office staff charged with implementation of the association’s varied programs, resources, and events while still ensuring the association is led and governed by our members. The first Executive Director, Roberta “Bobbie” Flaherty, worked tirelessly for nearly 20 years to build a strong and effective Executive Office staff who work diligently each day to ensure the association meets the needs of our members as determined by leaders and members themselves. “Bobbie” Flaherty’s work in ensuring the association’s finances were managed effectively was instrumental to the successes our association has had in membership growth and financial growth and also laid the foundation for collaborative work between NACADA and the College of Education, which resulted in the creation of the first on-line Graduate Certificate and Masters Degree in Academic Advising.  More recently, the NACADA Research Center was open, based at Kansas State University, and the Ph.D. program with an academic advising focus will begin with its first cohort in Summer 2020. The relationship between NACADA and Kansas State University has enabled our association to continue to be member-driven and governed while at the same time provide the support needed to grow and move into the future.

In a relatively short span of 40 years, NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising has grown into a large association that is having significant impact on the academic success of students across the globe. From our original 429 charter members to our nearly 15,000 members today, NACADA is building upon a strong past and present created by the hard work and dedication of our members and leaders and the strong foundation built and cultivated by the NACADA Boards of Directors, founding Executive Director “Bobbie” Flaherty and College of Education Deans Michael Holen and Debbie Mercer. What an exciting time for NACADA to celebrate our past 40 years and our present achievements, as we continue to move toward a future clearly defined by our strong mission, vision, and strategic goals. 

Charlie Nutt, Executive Director
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising
(785) 532-5717

Cite this article using APA style as: Nutt, C. (2019, September). From the executive director: Celebrating the past, present, and future: NACADA’s 40th anniversary. Academic Advising Today, 42(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.