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Voices of the Global Community


Amy Sannes, NACADA President

President Amy Sannes.jpgThe President’s column in Academic Advising Today has been committed to updating the membership on the Town Hall topic areas that were discussed at the 2017 Annual Conference in October.  This edition will focus on the topic of NACADA’s Global Initiatives.

Becoming a global community seems like a reasonably easy goal and definitely a valuable goal for NACADA.  At the Town Hall meeting in St. Louis, the discussion on Global Initiatives certainly supported NACADA’s efforts to continue to move toward a global community, but also highlighted several questions from the membership.  The questions raised during this meeting centered on a lack of knowledge of why have we moved to a global community and how can we be more effective as a global community for academic advising.  In February there was a Virtual Town Hall meeting focused on Global Initiatives that addressed many of the questions raised at the in-person Annual Town Hall meeting and NACADA membership is encouraged to view the webinar.

The Association has made amazing strides at connecting externally with global partners; however, it is important that membership also focus on internally supporting the association to include a global viewpoint in the work we do.  Reviewing NACADA’s Vision and Mission, it is clear that the membership has charged the Association with promoting student success through effective academic advising on a global level.  The Board of Directors has been very supportive of Global Initiatives and has supported and encouraged Charlie Nutt, the NACADA Executive Director, to develop global partnerships and help lead the way as NACADA became the Global Community for Academic Advising.  In 2012, the Board voted to include a global focus in NACADA’s strategic goals.

When asked why this is important to the Association, Nutt responded:

As the world becomes “smaller” due to increased use of technology in all areas, higher education institutions across the globe are more closely aligned than ever before.  This is especially true as the issue of increased student completion and graduation is an issue being faced by institutions in all countries.  Therefore, it is essential that NACADA be an association where the global advising community can come together in various venues to discuss the issues of the impact of quality academic advising on student success, can learn from each other and the work that is being done at institutions in all countries, and ultimately can begin to conduct global research on academic advising that will enhance our profession and will clearly promote quality academic advising for all students in all institutions across the world. (C. Nutt, personal communication, April 30, 2018)

NADADA membership is approaching 14,000 members of which 360 are Canadian and 161 are from other institutions outside of North America.  Our membership represents 35 countries.  NACADA is poised to take on the role of supporting student success on a global level and has a history of global involvement.

Canadian advisors have been an important component of the NACADA membership since the beginning.  NACADA’s first conference in Vermont in 1977 had Canadian members in attendance, so technically NACADA had a global influence on a small scale from the start.  It was not until 2006 that NACADA really started branching outside of North America.  Nutt was invited to provide a keynote address to the tutors at the United Kingdom regional tutoring conference.  For those of you wondering why NACADA would be presenting at a tutoring conference—well, advising in the UK is actually referred to as tutoring!  Nutt realized almost immediately that this group, on another continent, had the same concerns in supporting student success as North American advisors.

From this point on, NACADA became immersed in developing a global community for academic advising.  There was a name change from NACADA: National Academic Advising Association to NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising.  NACADA now refers to the yearly National Conference as the yearly Annual Conference to reflect the global community.  Since 2013, NACADA has offered a yearly International Conference that has further exposed the North American membership to a more global concept and has also connected the resources and expertise of NACADA to many advisors from across the globe.  In 2013, the Board of Directors established the Global Initiatives Committee which “assists with the recruitment, retention, and support of international academic advising professionals through developing and implementing strategies and activities” (NACADA, n.d.-a, para. 1).

The NACADA website states:

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising continues to make powerful connections globally on behalf of the field of academic advising.  Through outreach to our colleagues all over the world, academic advising professionals across the globe are able to build global networks to support the work that continues to advance the field of advising and strengthen student success. (NACADA, n.d.-b, para. 1)

An example of NACADA making powerful connections globally on behalf of the field of academic advising is the recent conference at Beijing University of Technology.  Being recognized as a leader in academic advising, NACADA was invited to send a delegation from four different countries to share advising in the various countries and how their work impacts student success.  David Lochtie, from the UK, summarizes the importance of this work “It is always heartening to learn from good practice across the globe and we hope that the continuation of this across the global NACADA network will aid us to become ever more globally aware and focused.”  

Advisors in China.jpg

Greeting in China.jpgOn May 28, 2018 Charlie Nutt, Executive Director of NACADA; David Lochtie, from the United Kingdom; Yvonne Halden, from Canada; Oscar van den Wijngaard, from the Netherlands; and Amy Sannes, President of NACADA, presented at the Annual Conference of Academic Advising Research Branch of Beijing Association of Higher Education and the International Academic Advising Forum.

Advising in China.jpgThe morning sessions consisted of presentations about academic advising systems from four Chinese institutions: Fudan University, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, Henan University of Science and Technology, and Beijing Normal University.  During the afternoon session the NACADA delegation presented on academic advising in their respective countries.

Oscar van den Wijngaard, from Maastricht University, discussed education in the Netherlands and how historical trends have facilitated the shift from traditional ‘study advising’ to more and different forms of advising and the need for more professional development for the new advising profession.  As Oscar reflected on the conference he shared: "Despite the many similarities when it comes to advising, what I realized once more while listening to the presentations of our Chinese colleagues is that there is not one single definition for academic advising—nor do we really need one to have meaningful conversations and exchanges. The balance between common ground and unfamiliar territory is inspiring and leads to truly new discoveries and insights. Exploring and engaging with different advising practices teaches us as much about others, as about ourselves."

Yvonne Halden in China.jpgYvonne Halden (pictured, right), from the University of Manitoba, shared Canada’s unique relationship with NACADA from the beginning of the Association.  She also discussed the different advising structures that exist in three different Canadian institutions.  Yvonne also commented on the day’s presentations: “The presentations truly showed that advising in China, Canada, Netherlands, UK, and the US have the same focus on supporting student success.  Even within in our own countries individuality and cultural of advising there is that common thread.   Meeting fellow advisors and the leadership within China clearly, from my perspective, demonstrates the strong commitment to train and enhance their skills as a priority.  They were gracious hosts and new advising relationships have been established.” 

David Lochtie, from the University of Derby, presented on the values, challenges, impact, and limitations of academic advising/personal tutoring in the UK, including treating students as partners in their learning.  David shared his impressions from the conference: “Despite clear cultural differences between China, the US, UK, Canada, and Netherlands what stood out to me were several key issues that were common to each. Chinese colleagues spoke about the differing levels of language ability among rural students when compared to those schooled in cities—a specific issue I had not faced in the UK. However, they also spoke about increasing student numbers, student mental health challenges, increased diversity (and diversity of need) among those students, and a need for greater professionalization of the advising role to meet these issues—all equally relevant across our global community.”

It was definitely encouraging to see a greater shift and focus to more of a developmental approach to advising in all of the countries represented and to recognize the staffing implications of such a shift.  This all leads to the increased need for training and support for primary role advisors and faculty advisors.  David went on to state, “I learned that the Chinese colleagues who presented were greater advocates of developmental advising styles than I may have thought they would be given the historically elevated stature of teachers over their students in the Chinese system.”

As President of NACADA, I am so proud of this group of professionals and the way they not only represented their countries and NACADA but how they represented our profession.  Our Chinese colleagues learned a great deal from us but I too learned a great deal from them and from the opportunity to interact with Oscar, David, Yvonne, and Charlie on a Global Stage.  We may have different historical and cultural influences but it was clear to me that our shared focus as academic advisors is on student success.  It is amazing that communication and cultural barriers are no longer issues when there is a common focus. Charlie Nutt in China.jpg

Charlie Nutt (pictured, right), Executive Director of NACADA, discussed the professionalization of academic advising, the complexities facing higher education today and the importance of advisors to be at the table when decisions relating to advising and student success are discussed.  Charlie sums up our experience “It was a huge honor to travel to Beijing with such dedicated professionals and NACADA members as Amy, Yvonne, David, and Oscar.  I am so proud of the high regard this team received from the over 300 participants from over 60 institutions across China. They demonstrated clearly the role that NACADA plays globally in the academic advising community as well as the great work being done by MAP in Manitoba, LVSA in the Netherlands, and UKAT in the UK!”

As an Association, NACADA still wrestles with how to respond to the larger global community when a majority of members are from the United States.  With every opportunity NACADA has to reach out to non-US institutions, the Association has gained further understanding of how the Association can continue to support academic advising and student success in our global community.

Amy Sannes, President, 2017-2018
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising
Director, Academic Services Natural Sciences
Arizona State University


NACADA. (n.d.-a). Global initiatives committee. Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/About-Us/NACADA-Leadership/Administrative-Division/Global-Initiatives-Committee.aspx

Cite this article using APA style as: Sannes, A. (2018, June). From the president: Conversation on NACADA as a global community for academic advising. Academic Advising Today, 41(2). Retrieved from [insert url here] 

Posted in: 2018 June 41:2


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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.