posted on May 23, 2021 01:01
Charlie Nutt, NACADA Executive Director
Dedicated to Dean Debbie Mercer and Maxine Coffey
In August 1992, I attended my first national conference on Retention and Student Success in New York City—one of my first times out of the state of Georgia! I went to this conference to get help and guidance in making changes to the faculty advising model at my college, Brunswick College. There I met Dr. Betty Siegle, then President of Kennesaw State College, and had to the chance to talk to her about how academic advising was organized at her institution. She encouraged me to contact Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. Nancy King, as she was an expert in the field of academic advising. In November, I drove to Kennesaw to meet Dr. King to learn everything about academic advising in one day! Dr. King spent the day with me, and I learned for the first time about academic advising as a relationship between an advisor and student, not simply registration for classes. It was all a new world to me and opened my eyes to a student success, student retention, and student persistence that had little to do with registration, scheduling, and lines on registration day! Nancy, who has become a lifelong mentor and friend, also introduced me to a new association called NACADA: The National Academic Advising Association that I had never heard of. I quickly joined NACADA, which changed my future in higher education and my life.
In March 1993, I and seven of my colleagues from Brunswick College attended a NACADA Region IV conference in Birmingham. Since coming into higher education in 1987, I had attended many conferences and knew I learned a lot, but I wandered the conference hallways alone looking for rooms and sat in sessions never meeting other participants and at the end never returned home thinking of those conference participants as colleagues or friends. However, within the first 10 minutes of the Region NACADA IV conference, I immediately knew I had my higher education home. I had never been to a conference where people welcomed me and wanted to help me, and where my colleagues learned about academic advising but also genuinely wanted us to feel a part of NACADA and our Region IV. We left that meeting with new and fresh ideas to transform academic advising at our college and more importantly with new friends and colleagues across NACADA Region IV, and we each had a goal to become involved in this wonderful association.
For the next 10 years, I had the opportunity to read about academic advising, to meet my heroes in the field like Dr. Virginia Gordon and Dr. Eric White, to present about the work we were doing at our college, and to become involved in NACADA. I had the chance to serve as NACADA Region IV Chair, to serve as the Two-Year College Commission Chair, and to serve on the NACADA Board of Directors as well as numerous other opportunities. I learned that relationships in academic advising are key to student success, and that NACADA created a culture of networking and relationship building among our members.
In 2002 I had the opportunity to come to the NACADA Executive Office at Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS as an Associate Director. I owe this life changing opportunity to NACADA’s Executive Director Emeritus Bobbie Flaherty and past Dean of the College of Education Dr. Michael Holen. I truly cannot thank Bobbie and Dean Holen enough for their belief in me and for the support they always provided me during my tenure with the Executive Office. It was exciting to join Marsha Miller as the first two content staff members in the Executive Office to work with our leaders and members to expand our publications as well as to create new professional development opportunities for our members.
Since being named NACADA’s Executive Director in 2007, I have had the chance to work with our members and leaders and the most amazing Executive Office staff to expand our association to become the primary association globally for academic advising and student success. With the work of the Board of Directors and NACADA President Casey Self, we changed to our name to NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising, which has expanded our reach throughout the world.
What an amazing journey I have had, a journey which goes back to my visit with Nancy King in 1992—academic advising is about teaching and learning, which can only be accomplished when we as advisors build relationships with our students. We must focus on what students bring to their education, what they desire in their college career, and their goals for the future. But what I have learned even more in my journey is that NACADA is built upon the relationships we build with each other in our association—the friendships we have gained, the lessons we have learned from our NACADA mentors and leaders, the goals we have worked together on to make NACADA be the best association it can be, and the deep passion we have for NACADA and each other.
Thank you for this beautiful journey you have walked with me—I am forever appreciative for the ride.
Charlie Nutt, Executive Director
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising