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Voices of the Global Community


Ruth Darling, NACADA President 

Dear Colleagues,

After every NACADA National Conference, I return to my campus with a true sense of belonging to a profession that has student learning and development as its core value. I am reassured that I associate with a diverse group of advising colleagues who approach their life's work with this point of view or perspective. I am also reassured that there is a professional association that has as its focus the promotion of academic advising within higher education along with the professional development of its members. These beliefs shape how I think about NACADA, my colleagues and my work.

The ideas of perspective/point of view and shared beliefs are an important piece of a graduate seminar I teach titled 'College Student Development Theory and Practice.' Throughout the course, the students and I explore the ideas and concepts underlying various paradigms and the impact these ideas have on theory, research and practice. To guide our discussions, I use Guba's (1990) definition of paradigm as - 'an interpretive framework, a basic set of beliefs that guides action' (p. 17). Together, through the examination of psycho-social/identity development, cognitive-structural and typology theories, we hope to arrive at a basic set of beliefs that will guide their personal theories and practice as entry- level professionals.

NACADA is developing a strategic plan that promotes a distinct mission and reflects a shared set of beliefs. The plan will be an 'interpretative framework' that 'guides action' as the leaders and membership address the work of the association and ultimately the work we all do in our educational contexts. Within higher education, NACADA's role is to:

  • Champion the educational role of academic advising to enhance student learning and development.
  • Affirm the role of academic advising in supporting institutional mission and vitality.
  • Address the academic advising needs of higher education.
  • Advance the body of knowledge of academic advising.
  • Encourage the contributions of all members and promote the involvement of diverse populations.

During this next year, the leadership of the various NACADA Divisions (regions, commissions/interest groups and committees) as well as the Board of Directors will be calling on you, the membership, to be involved in shaping our work, in shaping our goals and, ultimately, in shaping our shared vision of NACADA. As President, I encourage you to get in involved with the association. The Executive Office staff, your regional chairs or the chairs of various commissions, interest groups and committees can serve as your contacts and information sources as you seek a meaningful way to connect with your colleagues and with NACADA. We need your involvement, your knowledge and your skill as we work to promote academic advising and support the learning and development of our students.

In closing, I hope to see many of you at the regional meetings this coming spring where we can, once again, connect with colleagues and explore our 'advising paradigm!' Thank you for the important work you do each day!

Best wishes,

Ruth Darling, President

Guba, E.G. (1990). The alternative paradigm dialog, In E.G. Guba (Ed.), The paradigm dialogue (pp. 17-30). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Cite this article using APA style as: Darling, R. (2003, December). From the president. Academic Advising Today, 26(4). [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.