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Voices of the Global Community


Supporting Social Justice through Advising

Melissa Lantta, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh

Editor's Note: Melissa will be presented a NACADA Outstanding New Advisor Award at the NACADA Annual Conference in Chicago this October. If you see Melissa in Chicago, be sure to offer your congratulations!

MelissaLantta.jpgThe issues of social justice and equity are growing in importance across the academy. The Center for Economic and Social Justice (2008) notes that “social justice imposes on each of us a personal responsibility to work with others to design and continually perfect our institutions as tools for personal and social development” (¶7). Although NACADA (2008) “promotes and supports quality academic advising in institutions of higher education to enhance the educational development of students” (¶1), how often do academic advisors examine their roles in upholding social justice through advising?

Advisors are often the gatekeepers for students transitioning into the campus community. If students’ initial transition to college is aided by an advising or orientation program, then students are more likely to make the immediate and positive connections needed to remain on campus (Nutt, 2003). Therefore, advisors are crucial in the establishment of a campus climate that creates a “safe” place for students. Advisors assist students in investigating resources available throughout the campus and support students in the pursuit of their interests and the exploration of their identities.

Advisors can take the first steps towards upholding social justice and equity by creating a “safe” atmosphere where students feel comfortable disclosing confidential information. Advisors should examine the message their physical environments present to students. What messages are conveyed to students through the books, posters, or signs in advisors’ offices? What does the decor say to students about advisors’ views of equity? Would the office discourage a feeling of safety? Does this message extend out of the office to suite, hallway, and building as a whole?

Some campuses offer training opportunities where faculty and staff can become more sensitive to different student groups (Joslin & Self, 2008). One example is SAFE (Students, Staff, and Faculty for Equity) training, which provides participants with a symbol showing LGBTQ students that the advisor’s office is a safe place for support, assistance, and/or confidential disclosure (University of Wisconsin Oshkosh).

Advisors should be cognizant of their personal biases. Advisors should contemplate such questions as: Do we promote equity and give each student what he or she needs? Do our words reflect that we believe students can accomplish their goals regardless of race, gender, etc.? Dialogue with students from backgrounds different than our own can be difficult; people can respond differently based upon their racial affiliation, their communication styles, and desired outcomes (Singleton & Linton, 2006). To ease the anxiety we may feel about dialogue with those different from ourselves, advisors should consider having what Singleton and Linton (2006) call “Courageous Conversations.” This is a process where advisors delve into their own personal biases, determine what steps they can take to promote success in all students, and engage in discussions to promote equity within advising and on campus.

When thinking about equity and social justice across campus, advisors should remember that one of the primary purposes of education is to provide students with the skills needed to function and think critically in a democratic society. Hytten (2006) noted that social justice is vital to the success of a democratic society. Advising goes beyond course selection to work with students on the exploration of their identities within the world. Advisors balance advocacy for students with the integrity of the institution and work to influence policy changes. Advisors can support social justice by urging students to include classes in their schedules that explore multiple perspectives, challenge them to reflect upon any misinformed ideas they may have, and gain a better understanding of people different from themselves (Gorski, 2006). Classes that focus on cultures and people outside a student’s realm of influence can help students learn about the moral and ethical background of complex issues and challenge them to take action against inequity (Shoenberg, 2005).

As student advocates, advisors should examine their institutions’ course offerings and programs. Does the institution offer a social justice minor? Are there classes that focus on diverse issues, such as LGBTQ or racial injustice? Do these classes fulfill general education requirements? What programs are offered at their institutions and what are the admissions requirements for these programs? Are entry requirements equal? What percentage of students accepted into competitive admissions programs are students of color or from other minority groups? What percent of these students are retained in these programs? If advisors see inequalities, it is vital that they take action and speak with departments, colleges, and administration to promote social justice.

The final commitment advisors need to make is to themselves (NACADA, 2004). Advisors should become cognizant of methods of inequality by committing themselves to the goals of social justice and exploring their own personal biases. Intergroup dialogues can be used to raise awareness of issues of inequality, not just from the standpoint of the less-advantaged groups, but how privilege can affect students and advisors alike. This means understanding one’s own social identity and exploring how that identity influences others (ASHE, 2006). The goal of conversations surrounding justice and equity should be that participants take action to prevent inequity and share information with others around them (Singleton & Linton, 2006). These conversations can start as small as discussing these issues within the confines of an advising center. It involves examining questions such as “How do my or our actions affect others or other groups? How are my or our actions empowering or disempowering others?” (ASHE, 2006, p.17). Advisors should look at their sphere of influence and see what actions they can implement.

As some of the first people students meet on their academic journey, advisors have an obligation to promote social justice. When we create a safe place where students feel comfortable disclosing information and searching out resources, we help students meet their needs. Advisors can assist students in discovering their own social identity and becoming well informed of any injustice they see within the campus community. In turn, advisors can help students take action against injustice and make their surroundings safe for their peers. Now is the time for advisors to take action and support social justice.

Melissa Lantta
Academic Advisor
Undergraduate Advising Resource Center
University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh


ASHE Higher Education Report. (2006). 32(4); 9-18.

Center for Economic and Social Justice. Defining economic justice and social justice. Retrieved March 14, 2008, from Center for Economic and Social Justice Web site:www.cesj.org/thirdway/economicjustice-defined.htm.

Gorski, P. (2006). Complicity with conservatism: The De-politicizing of multicultural and intercultural education. Retrieved March 5, 2008, from EdChange Web site:www.edchange.com/publications/Complicity_with_Conservatism.pdf

Hytten, Kathy. (2006). Education for social justice: Provocations and challenges.Educational Theory, 56 (2), 221-236.

Joslin, J., & Self, C. (2008). Shared responsibilities: What advisors and administrators need to know to better assist GLBTQA students [CD-ROM/Webinar]. NACADA Webinar Series 2007-2008.

NACADA. (2004). NACADA statement of core values of academic advising. Retrieved March 12, 2008, from the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site:www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/Core-Values.htm.

NACADA. (2008). About NACADA. Retrieved February 20, 2008, from NACADA Web site:www.nacada.ksu.edu/AboutNACADA/index.htm.

Nutt, Charlie L. (2003). Academic advising and student retention and persistence. Retrieved March 3, 2008, from the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site: www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/retention.htm.

Schoenberg, Robert. (2005). Why do I have to take this course? A Student guide to making smart educational choices. Washington D. C: Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Singleton, G., & Linton, C. (2005). Courageous conversations about race: A Field guide for achieving equity in school. Thousand Oaks, C: SAGE Publications.

From the President: Regional Conference Recap and a Reminder to Make Time for Yourself

Jennifer L. Bloom, NACADA PresidentJennyBloom.jpg

This spring, Charlie Nutt and I have been on what I am calling the NACADA Regional Conference World Tour 2008. We have had a wonderful time in each of the beautiful Conference cities, and I walk away from these Regional Conferences re-energized, re-committed, and proud of our Association. The real strength of our organization lies in our members and our member-leaders, and never has this been more evident to me than during these trips to attend the Regional Conferences. Academic advisors are some of the nicest people you will ever meet, and they have a true passion for their work. Plus, I have learned so much from my colleagues across the country during their presentations. To those of you whose presentations I attended and those of you whom I had the pleasure of meeting on this World Tour, thank you for your willingness to share your knowledge and passion for advising and NACADA with me.

One person that I want to acknowledge is Charlie Nut tand the great job he is doing on behalf of the Association. As you may recall, Charlie was named the Executive Director of NACADA after the organization conducted an international search to replace our Executive Director Emeritus, Bobbie Flaherty, who announced last summer that she was going to begin a phased retirement. As Charlie and I have been attending the Regional Conferences, I have been able to see first-hand how effective Charlie is in helping orient our members to the Association, encouraging member involvement in the organization, and engaging members in dialogue about their needs and how NACADA might be able to help meet those needs. I think Charlie has done a great job in his initial months in the Executive Director’s seat, and I want to thank him for his loyalty and passionate commitment to making NACADA the best organization it can possibly become. Thank you, Charlie.

My year as President of NACADA is flying by and the Annual Conference in Chicago will be here before we know it. By the time you read this, the Board of Directors and the Council will have had their spring meeting in Chicago to receive updates from the various Task Forces and Subcommittees that have been appointed as well as to prioritize our work on the NACADA Strategic Plan. I anticipate that we will have a collegial and productive meeting and am looking forward to getting a sneak peek at our Conference facilities in beautiful downtown Chicago.

As the academic year winds down, don’t forget to make time to take care of you. In advising, we sometimes have a tendency to focus all of our attention on the needs of others while neglecting our own needs. To this end, I share a quote from Shale Paul in The Warrior Within, “It takes courage to demand time for yourself. At first glance, it may seem to be the ultimate in selfishness, a real slap in the face to those who love and depend on you. It's not. It means you care enough to want to see the best in yourself and give only the best to others. It is silent recognition that your obligation to them is to give your best, and nothing less.” So, continue to give others your best by taking care of you!

Jennifer L. Bloom, President
National Academic Advising Association

From the Executive Director: NACADA Academic Advising Families Grow and Prosper!

Charlie Nutt, NACADA Executive Director 

Charlie Nutt.jpgI hope you all had a productive spring. For NACADA it has definitely been a busy and exciting time, with our outstanding and highly successful Regional Conferences. The 2000+ participants in attendance at these conferences was a tremendous demonstration that academic advising continues to grow in its importance on our college and university campuses. I want to personally thank our Region Chairs, the Region Conference Chairs, and the many volunteers who made this year’s conferences so wonderful. All of you are true examples of how our members make NACADA the Association it is!

As President Bloom stated in her column, attending the Regional Conferences has been a great honor and treat for us. We enjoyed having the opportunity to meet and talk with so many brand new NACADA members; at each Regional Conference the number of new members was staggering! Each Region has its own culture, strength, and energy; to be able to experience this has been totally energizing for me. It is also great to see the camaraderie and deep connections that Region members have with each other and how each Region is definitely a “NACADA Family” of its own! And just like families, each Region has its special traditions and also exciting “family events” that make the conferences so amazing.

Just a few highlights of our “families” I have experienced at the Regions include:

  • At Region 1, former Region Chair Gail Stepina (University of New Hampshire) was serenaded by all 302 participants with a special tribute song to the tune of “My Favorite Things,” named “Gail’s Favorite Things.”
  • Region 2 adopted our guests from the United Kingdom into our NACADA family, making them feel a part of the NACADA spirit.
  • At Region 4, participants were welcomed at the opening reception by Mobile’s Azalea Trail Maids in gorgeous antebellum dresses that highlighted the wonderful Southern hospitality of the Region.
  • Region 5’s focus on development of new allied associations was apparent from the great participation from all the outstanding allied associations in the Region.
  • At Region 7, the participants were witnesses to a marriage proposal and engagement of two long-time Region 7 members,Caroline Fox (Fort Hays State University) and Jonathan Franklin (Oklahoma State University-Tulsa).
  • At Region 8, a great number of new Canadian members were “adopted” into the Region 8 NACADA family, truly demonstrating the international connections growing in NACADA. The Region also must figure out how to compensate two new members whom I doused with a cup of coffee at 7 a.m., but that is another story!
  • LibrariosFamily.jpgRegion 9 truly experienced the NACADA family spirit with the Librarios family from Hawaii (see photo at right). Three generations of this advising family attend NACADA events together: father Ernie, with nearly 40 years in advising at Leeward Community College; son Niki,who advises at the University of Hawaii at Manoa; and daughter-in-law Laurie, who advises at Leeward Community College; as well as grand-daughters Joy and Faith, who enjoy attending with their Grandpa Ernie and their parents. Niki and Laurie met as student workers at Leeward in Ernie’s advising office.

These are all examples that NACADA is not only an Association known for its high quality events, publications, and services but, just as importantly, for our networking and “family connections” that make all of us feel so much more a part of our Association!

As we move from spring to summer, I strongly encourage all of you to attend, or provide others at your institutions the opportunity to attend, one of the two NACADA Academic Advising Summer Institutes held in June and August in either Portsmouth, Virginia or Austin, Texas. The NACADA Summer Institute is a premier event held twice each summer; it offers participants with an intensive, week-long experience that provides participants with valuable knowledge and skills. Participants have the opportunity to network with colleagues from like institutions and interact with experts in the field who help them develop an Action Plan that will enhance the advising experiences of all students on their campuses. In addition, I encourage those of you with faculty advising models to attend the Faculty Advising: Collaborating for Success Seminar held just prior to the June Summer Institute in Portsmouth. This seminar, in its fourth year, focuses on strategies faculty advisors can incorporate into their advising practices as well as strategies to assist those who work directly with faculty on their campuses.

I wish you all a great summer. Let me add my encouragement to Jenny’s that each of you take some time for yourself and get re-energized for your students, your institutions, and NACADA! Your involvement with each continues to be the key to the success of NACADA and all we do!

Thanks and have a great summer!

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

Preparing to Advise First-Year Students

Christine G.S. Leichliter, The College of New Jersey 
Kathy J. McCleaf, Mary Baldwin College

ChristineLeichliter.jpgKathyMcCleaf.jpgResearch suggests that the first year of post-secondary education is the most precarious Yokomoto, Rizkalla, O'Loughlin, El-Sharkawy, and Lamm (1999) noted that Tinto, in his model of student attrition, asserts that, “the level of student integration into the college environment affects their ability to persist in the pursuit of a degree” (p.99). Hewett and Seymour (as cited in Yokomoto, et. al.) agree that persistent students are also most successful in developing and utilizing support networks that begin to take the place of, or become extensions of, students’ families.period in students’ progress toward graduation. Therefore it is incumbent that the institution articulate the ethos of the institutional culture and find ways to encourage students to adopt and embrace that culture. Academic advisors can be instrumental in setting the stage for new student success.

Significant to the impact of retention is the effort focused on the transition of the family unit as residential students enter the first year of college. An old Native American adage popularized by journalist Hodding Carter (2006) notes that the most important gifts parents can impart to their offspring are roots and wings: the roots to form the foundations for making good choices and decisions and the wings to take on the challenges faced when they leave the home. Advisors can help affirm the family transition for both students and their families.

Often the key to a student’s success is found in appropriate family support and trust. It is important that students and parents remember that it will take a bit of time away from each other in order to adjust. Pre-arranging times to communicate via email, instant messages, or telephone can be helpful in allaying homesickness. Likewise “care packages” that include letters with news clips from the home community and artwork or letters from younger siblings can remind students that their place in the home is still there and important. Planning family visits to campus after a month or student visits home to share in special occasions are other strategies that can help mitigate some of the difficulties caused by separation.

Mullendore and Hatch (2000) noted several changes that occur as the shift in responsibilities reverses and the dependent becomes independent. Acknowledging that roles are changing is important as families cope without the help they once received from students with childcare, meal preparation, and daily homecare roles. In addition, students are adjusting to new roles, value testing, and sharing in communities that may be so foreign to their experiences that the articulation of how things work may be too difficult to relay to those at home. When a recent researcher went undercover as a freshman, she likened her “entrance into college life… [to] prior fieldwork in a remote village” (Nathan, 2005, p. 10).

Although most students experience some adjustment difficulties as they enter college, students who are the first in their families to participate in higher education seem to encounter a unique set of problems. In his research, Tinto (as noted by Olenchak and Hebert, 2002) observed that reasons students leave college include such factors as “unclear intentions about higher education, lack of commitment, adjustment problems, feelings of isolation, family obligations, and financial problems” (p. 195).

Compounding their difficulties, first-generation students can find themselves the recipients of discrimination, both in the social and in the academic arenas. These students are less likely to persist in higher education and complete their degrees (Ting, 2003). If colleges and universities are to develop services that successfully address student issues, then student needs must shape those services. Every student has a story—one that defines his/her identity and influences that student’s ability to successfully adapt to and survive in a new culture.

Student engagement and satisfaction is an important factor in assessing institutional effectiveness; in fact, research shows that student engagement is linked to a variety of desirable college outcomes (Kuh, Kinzie, Schuh, & Whitt, 2005). One of these desirable outcomes is the student’s ability to integrate into the campus community while developing those skills and behaviors that encourage individual identity and integrity.

Successful transitioning occurs when young people move towards integrating their identity to include all parts of their lives. Many campuses define cultural diversity to include ethnic minorities only and examine identity development only as a partial construct of student development. “Teachers and advisors should be aware of and sensitive to the stages of cultural development that all of their students – including mainstream students, students of color, and other marginalized groups of students – may be experiencing and facilitate their identity development” (Banks, 2004, p. 304).

Tatum (1997) details resource and support networks for students of color in her works. Others focus research on areas including students with disabilities, minority religions, and sexual minority students (Lowery, 2004; McCarn & Fassinger, 1996; Roer-Strier, 2002). Minority students are arriving in larger numbers and are demanding to be served and supported in their educational efforts. The shift in campus demographics shows that the numbers of minority status students will increase so that they will become the majority on campus within the next decade (Bruch, et al., 2004).

Student success and educational effectiveness are top priorities, especially if we expect to see successful student transitions on today’s campuses. Academic advisors who help students integrate life management skills and find solid support networks will assist these students in creating a foundation for coping with collegiate level academic stress. Advisors who are aware of the needs of first year students can make the difference as students learn to navigate the halls of academia.

Christine Leichliter
Assistant Dean
School of the Arts and Communication
The College of New Jersey

Kathy McCleaf
Associate Professor of Health and Studies of Gender and Sexuality
Department of Sociology and Social Work
Mary Baldwin College


Banks, J. A. (2004, Summer). Teaching for social justice, diversity, and citizenship in a global world. The Educational Forum, 68 (4), 296-305.

Bruch, P., Jehangir, R., Jacobs, W., & Ghere, D. (2004, Spring-b). Enabling access: Toward multicultural developmental curricula. Journal of Developmental Education27 (3), 12-19.

Carter, H. Roots and Wings Quote, Retrieved May 1, 2006, fromhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hodding_Carter

Kuh, G. D., Kinzie, J., Schuh, J. H., & Whitt, E. J. (2005, July/August). Never let it rest: Lessons about student success from high-performing colleges and universities. Change, 44-51.

Lowery, J. W. (2004, Spring). Understanding the legal protections and limitations upon religion and spiritual expression on campus. College Student Affairs Journal, 23 (2).

McCarn, S., & Fassinger, R. E. (1996). Revisioning sexual minority identity formation: Its implications for counseling and research. The Counseling Psychologist, 24 (3), 508-534.

Mullendore, R. H., & Hatch, C. (2000). Helping your first-year college student succeed: A Guide for parents. Columbia: National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, University of South Carolina.

Nathan, R. (2005). My freshman year: What a professor learned by becoming a student. Ithica: Cornell University Press.

Olenchak, F. R., & Hebert, T. P. (2002, March/April). Endangered academic talent: Lessons learned from gifted first-generation college males. Journal of College Student Development, 43 (2), 195-212.

Roer-Strier, D. (2002). University students with learning disabilities advocating for change.Disability and Rehabilitation, 24 (17), 914-924.

Tatum, B. D. (1997). 'Why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria?' And other conversations about race. New York: Basic Books.

Ting, S. R. (2003, Spring). A longitudinal study of non-cognitive variables in predicting academic success of first-generation college students. College and University, 78 (4), 27-31.

Yokomoto, C. F., Rizkalla, M. E., O'Loughlin, C. L., El-Sharkawy, M. A., & Lamm, N. P. (1999, January). Developing a motivational freshman course in using the principle of attached learning. Journal of Engineering Education, 88 (1), 99-106.

An Advising April Fool Lesson

Heidi Koring, Peer Advising and Mentoring Advising Interest Group Member

HeidiKoring.jpgJust when advisors say, “I’ve finally seen it all!” an advising experience takes place that is so unusual, extraordinary, or just plain weird that it feels like an April Fool’s Day prank. Here’s one that occurred on the Lynchburg College campus recently, along with the lessons advisors can learn from it. Some names have been changed to conceal the identity of a university.

A.J. is an experienced advisor at Lynchburg College. She not only advises undergraduates, she teaches math as well. Her husband has worked in student affairs administration for many years, so she understands that dimension of student life. She is also the mother of two college students; one attends Lynchburg, and the other studies at a state university. When her phone rang the week before spring break, she was confident she could answer any advising question a student could ask.

“A.J., this is Karen, the secretary in the dean’s office. I have a student on the phone who is very upset. He’s trying to drop a course and he can’t find his advisor’s office.”

The student on the other end of the line was, indeed, distraught. While calming him down, A.J. learned he was a recent transfer named Jim who wanted to drop a course he was failing. He couldn’t find his advisor, and he asked if A.J. could sign the form for him.

“Come right over to my office,” she said. “I’m in Hall Campus Center.”

“I’m not sure where that is,” Jim said. “I feel really lost on campus and I don’t know where all the buildings are. Is it near Main Hall?”

A.J. was confused. Lynchburg College doesn’t have a building named Main Hall. But it does have a facility near the library sometimes referred to as the main classroom building.

“Where are you now?”

“I’m at the library,” Jim responded.

“Just turn right by the science building.”

“Is the science building near North Hall?”

Her confusion grew. Lynchburg College doesn’t have a North Hall either. But the names of the buildings sounded familiar to her.

“Tell me, Jim, are you attending Lynchburg College, or are you a student at the state university?” A.J. asked in disbelief.

“I’m a student at State, of course,” he answered. “And I need some advising help.”

As luck would have it, A.J.’s daughter attends this state university with the same major as Jim, so she knew exactly what office building he needed to visit. She even knew the name of the department secretary. She gave him directions and explained the procedure for dropping classes at the university. She also recommended that he seek tutoring help for the classes that were troubling him and that he visit the career center to explore some major options better suited to his strengths and interests. When he hung up, he knew exactly what to do.

As A.J. shared her story with other advisors in the Advising and Career Center, we reflected that this story contains lessons for advisors everywhere.

Take time to build rapport. Sometimes if advisors are feeling rushed, it’s a temptation to answer students’ questions too soon. Because A.J. spent time at the beginning of the conversation getting to know the student, she was able to create a relationship with him and gain his trust.

Meet students where they are developmentally. Even though Jim was a transfer student half way through his first semester, he had the knowledge of campus more consonant to that of a new freshman. Rather than trying to troubleshoot why Jim was at this developmental level, she met him there, respecting his concerns.

Listen for deeper problems and address them. Jim’s presenting problem was that he wanted to drop a class. However, A.J. quickly ascertained that PeerIG.jpgJim did not have the skill base he needed to be successful in the courses required for his major. She addressed this deeper problem through two referrals.

And finally, expect the unexpected. In the world of academic advising, no two students and no two problems are exactly the same.

Heidi Koring
Lynchburg College

From First Year to Career: Connecting Advising Syllabi to Electronic Portfolios

Kathleen A. Ward, Thiel College


In December 2006, Karen Thurmond (University of Memphis) facilitated a NACADA What is an e-portfolio? Helen Barrett (2000) describes it as a “reflective tool that demonstrates growth over time” (¶4). More precisely, she notes that the e-portfolio “brings together two different processes: multimedia project development and portfolio development” (¶5), both equally important to students. Danielson and Abrutyn (as cited by Barrett, 2000) noted that the process involves “collection, selection, reflection, and direction (looking ahead and setting goals for the future)” (Barrett, ¶6). As an “ongoing learning tool” (¶38), the e-portfolio “is not a haphazard collection of artifacts” (¶4).Webinar on the advising syllabus, that important advising tool that communicates to students that advising is teaching and identifies learning outcomes advisees can achieve through the advising process. Several sessions at the 2007 NACADA Annual Conference provided information on the advising syllabus, and a pre-conference workshop was devoted to the advising portfolio. Interestingly, however, only one Conference session specifically addressed the electronic portfolio as a logical adjunct to these advising issues. E-portfolios are an increasingly important part of the college experience and can be a fundamental means for the documentation of advising outcomes. Therefore, academic advisors should consider implementing the e-portfolio into the advising process.

The directors of the Electronic Portfolio Program (2007) at Virginia Wesleyan College note that an e-portfolio is a “web document” which facilitates the following:

  • Reflecting [on self, abilities, interests, coursework, co-curricular activities, etc.]
  • Connecting the lessons of the college classroom to the world beyond campus
  • Bringing together coursework, off-campus research, off-campus experiences
  • [Developing a record] that ultimately translates into a resume that will give students an edge (¶1).

Advisors will note similarities between these two definitions and several advising outcomes – reflection, learning, transferability of knowledge from classroom to world, and career goals. Furthermore, an e-portfolio results in a product allowing students to demonstrate “useful technology and design skills” (Agnes Scott College, 2007, ¶3). E-portfolios are flexible and permit students to stand out as individuals. Reflections on learning and skill development from semester to semester can be included as well as photographs of learning experiences, important course papers and projects related to career interests, music, poetry, art, personal goals and philosophies. The word “resume” in the Virginia Wesleyan description could be misleading because while an e-portfolio can contribute to an effective resume, its implementation in the freshman year is important to the documentation of advising outcomes and the student’s college experience.

When an e-portfolio is not limited to the senior year for the sole purpose of obtaining employment, it is useful to advisors for fostering student growth. The authors of the Agnes Scott College (2007) electronic portfolio entry noted that the e-portfolio “promote[s] student engagement” and “encourages student[s] to organize and creatively present evidence of [their] intellectual and personal development and academic achievement during [their] entire college career” (¶1). Advisors can help incoming college students begin e-portfolios with reflections on summer job experiences, volunteer activities, new ideas they want to explore in college, and campus groups they would like to join. Students can establish goals, save pictures, reflect on new work experiences through service-learning and internships, identify skills development, and record their changes in values and interests. The e-portfolio, then, creates an ongoing electronic document which advisor and advisee can use as a foundation for advising sessions.

Some possibilities for connecting advising syllabi with e-portfolios are suggested by current advising syllabi. Among student expectations listed on the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Cross-College Advising Service (2006) syllabus are the following: “come to appointments prepared with questions and/or topics to discuss,” “be open to developing and clarifying your personal values and goals,” and “keep a record of your academic progress and goals” (p. 1). Students automatically create a record while reflecting and writing on possible questions, topics, values, and goals which can be called up on a computer for discussion and rethinking. The e-portfolio also helps students to achieve two of the objectives and expected student outcomes listed on the calendar page of the same syllabus: “clarify your personal values, especially as they relate to academic and career choices” and “assess your skills and strengths” (Cross-College Advising Service, 2006, p. 2). By providing a record of these thinking projects, the e-portfolio helps students prepare for advising sessions and examine their thoughts on these issues as they move through college. At the same time, students can create an environment for music, poetry, or photographs. They can also connect co-curricular activities to their courses and reveal skills and career-related interests that the advisor and student can discuss.

Another academic advising syllabus (Fall, 2005) from Dickinson College includes advisee responsibilities such as “organize official documents” for easy access and “develop an on-going portfolio of your advising work” (p. 2). The authors of the Dickinson syllabus note that scanning and maintaining a record of such documents and advising sessions will help the student and advisor “to accurately measure and document that you have achieved the learning outcomes for academic advising” and to create “a variety of documents that you and your advisor will develop together to demonstrate your achievement of these outcomes” (p. 2).

The word “portfolio” reminds us that the advising portfolio is another tool that has been receiving much attention lately. Do students need both an advising and an e-portfolio? An advising portfolio can easily be one and the same as an e-portfolio, increasing a student’s sense of engagement in its development.

Electronic portfolio programs continue to grow. The Virginia Wesleyan College “PORTfolio” program replaces a minor, requires nineteen credit hours, and includes an e-portfolio which students begin their freshman year. As part of its Learning Outcomes Project, Schoolcraft College has a four-year Electronic Portfolio Program (2007) encompassing a seven-week course “specifically designed to help you organize and begin construction of your electronic portfolio” (¶5). Schoolcraft students have access to multiple resources, including links to sample e-portfolios. One final example is the e-Portfolio and Global Citizenship project (n.d.) from Kennesaw State University. This four-year e-portfolio program is based on the RACCE (2002) college student portfolio process: “reflect, assess, collect, connect, and express.” Kennesaw’s e-portfolio program equips students “to become productive citizens” (¶1) as it “strengthens the vision of the college student learning process” (¶2). The Virginia Wesleyan’s “Top 10 reasons that make the PORTfolio Program different!” (n.d.) points to benefits which students can appreciate: “You will learn web design skills and modify and add to your portfolio throughout your journey through the program. Eventually this will become a 3-D collection of your experiences, coursework, and photos that you will use to market yourself to prospective graduate schools or potential employers. This is way beyond Facebook and MySpace... ” (No. 10).

Academic advising should become a vital portion within the increasing number of e-portfolio programs. Recognizing that advising is teaching, NACADA members have promoted the advising syllabus as a means to identify learning outcomes students can attain through the advising process. The e-portfolio contributes to the achievement of numerous learning goals. Therefore, advisors should consider how the activities and expectations that make up advising syllabi can be connected to and facilitated by electronic portfolios. The possibilities are ripe for study and experimentation.

Kathleen A. Ward
Director, Academic Success Center
Thiel College


Academic advising syllabus. (Fall 2005). Dickinson College. Retrieved March 26, 2008, from www.dickinson.edu/departments/advising/AcadAdvisingSyllabusF05.pdf.

Agnes Scott College. (2007). Agnes Scott electronic portfolio. Retrieved March 26, 2008, from http://eportfolio.agnesscott.edu/links/what/what1.htm.

Barrett, Helen. (2000, April). Create your own electronic portfolio: Using off-the-shelf software to showcase your own or student work. Learning & Leading with Technology.http://electronicportfolios.org/portfolios/iste2k.html

Cross-College Advising Service (CCAS) advising syllabus. (2006). University of Wisconsin. Retrieved March 26, 2008, from www.ccas.wisc.edu/pubs/advising%20syllabus%2006-07.pdf.

Electronic portfolio (2007). Virginia Wesleyan College. Retrieved March 26, 2008, from www.vwc.edu/academics/porftolio/electronic/.

Electronic portfolio program. (n.d.). Schoolcraft College. Retrieved March 26,2008, fromwww.schoolcraft.edu/eportfolio /.

E-Portfolio and global citizenship. (n.d.) Kennesaw State University. Retrieved March 26, 2008, from http://www.kennesaw.edu/university_studies/sye/global.shtml.

Leichter Dominic, J. E. (2002). RACCE. Retrieved March 26, 2008.

The top 10 reasons that make the PORTfolio Program different. (n.d.). Virginia Wesleyan College. Retrieved March 26, 2008.

'Classroom' Advising: Adapting the Virtual Learning Environment

Lisa Youretz, John Fenelon, and Karen Wrench, Marquette University


Incorporating technology into advising practices that are meaningful to students can be challenging. Challenges are even greater when an institution’s student population consists of non-traditional learners juggling a multitude of roles and responsibilities, whose age range spans forty years, and whose technological skills range from a minimal understanding of basic computing to coordinating corporate networks. How can advisors effectively integrate existing technology to communicate with students, build community, provide timely information, and establish a non-threatening environment for learners? Advisors should consider their institutions’ online course management systems.

Friendster, Second Life®, YouTube™, wikis, blogs, and vlogs have become familiar terms. Online social networking sites such as Facebook© and MySpace® are now the norm among traditional-age students. Contrary to popular belief, some sites actually attract more mature participants. Jacobs (2006) indicated that 68% of all visitors to MySpace are 25 and older, while Friendster’s attraction is even higher at 71%. These findings dispel the misconception that online social networking is the exclusive domain of teenagers and young adults (Jacobs, 2006).

Community-Building, Networking, and Retention

As we adapt and explore innovative possibilities to deliver academic advising, online social networking sites (SNS) are an attractive tool to bridge generational gaps, introduce new technologies, and make connections. Carter (2007) suggested that “social networking sites may be appropriate for adult learners as they attempt to balance multiple life roles with academic responsibilities…in a convenient, flexible format” (¶7). Since public sites are often plagued by inappropriate behaviors and security risks, advisors should think about utilizing their institution’s virtual learning environment (VLE). This approach allows advisors to monitor online postings and add resources that can help non-traditional students feel connected to campus and to one another.

Transforming a virtual classroom into an advising site can aid in the never-ending quest to increase student retention. Tinto (2006) noted that it was once thought that students needed to break away from their past communities of friends, families, and employers in order to be involved in their academic pursuits. Not anymore. Tinto (2006) found that, in many cases, links to students’ previous communities were essential to their academic persistence. When students feel supported—whether from peers, faculty, or the institution itself—they become more involved and invested in the educational process, resulting in the tendency to stay in school (Ashar & Skenes, 1993; Tinto, 1998, 2006).

From home or work, VLEs can maintain students’ links to personal communities while integrating their support network of fellow learners who understand the challenges and pressures of higher education. Students utilizing VLE discussion boards can also:

  • Interact with peers
  • Raise issues and concerns
  • Provide feedback on courses and instruction
  • Dialogue with faculty and advising personnel
  • Swap or sell textbooks.

By monitoring and participating in online discussions, advisors can get a pulse on students concerns. “Lively [online] discussions on hot topics,” according to Sotto (2000), “can provide a sense of group connectedness” (p. 255). Advisors can also organize synchronous (live) chats that can provide immediate feedback. Private email conversations can occur via paging capabilities that allow students to communicate with an advisor or a peer instead of the entire class list.

Utilizing Existing Technology

Not all students are comfortable with new technologies; some non-traditional students may need to learn basic computer skills. The Sloan Consortium (2006) noted that after a five year growth in online learning, institutions are likely to continue to expand virtual classes and programs. Modifying a campus VLE is a natural progression to provide first-time learners advising-related information that can help familiarize students with an e-learning format. Using a VLE provides students a safe environment to navigate the virtual classroom at their own pace without the pressure of earning a grade.

Adapting an institution’s VLE may make the most economical sense for cash-strapped programs. Because online delivery systems are already in place, implementing an advising “course” requires no additional costs, consulting fees, or funding. The greatest investment advising administrators may face is effectively training staff to manage the site and budgeting time into advisors’ schedules for regular updates and student interactions.

One-Stop Portal

Another important benefit of a customized VLE is that it provides a convenient, one-stop portal to advising information. Traditional office hours do not meet the needs of students in our 24/7 world. Extending office hours may not be feasible but access to interactive resources can be only keystrokes away including:

  • Answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs)
  • Academic forms
  • Campus events
  • Degree requirements
  • Handbooks and bulletins
  • Historical syllabi
  • Internal and external Web links
  • Internships
  • Newsletters
  • Orientation materials
  • Podcasts
  • Policies and procedures
  • Scholarships
  • Student organizations
  • Study skill strategies.

An advising VLE can facilitate information retrieval, provide reminders about upcoming deadlines, and help students discover available resources while remaining sensitive to students’ needs and their varying technological comfort levels (Sotto, 2000).

Other Practical Aspects

Steele and Carter (2002) emphasized that managing these tools—and our time—is now even more critical; utilizing Web pages, emails, and VLEs can assist in addressing “repetitive or common inquiries” and “establish better and more effective communication with advisees” (¶4). Instead of mailing, emailing, or faxing forms, students can access information at any time. The VLE offers advisors additional time to prioritize daily demands and empowers students to be more self-directed, independent learners. A VLE can be tailored to meet the needs of a department, student population or institution including:

  • Save/reduce costs associated with printing and mailing
  • Supplement or offer orientation sessions
  • Implement non-graded quizzes to assess student understanding of policies and procedures
  • Administer Web-based exit surveys for continuous quality improvement
  • Enhance connections between students and peer/alum mentors


An online “course” site is not intended to replace one-on-one interactions with students; instead it adds another dimension that enhances the relationship between advisor and advisee and opens a world of information. When advisors integrate existing technologies, we can effectively communicate with students, build rapport, and establish a safe environment for first-time online learners. Customizing an institution’s VLE is a win-win situation: institutions save money, advisors save time, and students feel connected and informed. All of this via a virtual classroom.

Lisa Youretz
Marquette University

John Fenelon
Marquette University

Karen Wrench
Marquette University


Ashar, H., & Skenes, R. (1993). Can Tinto’s student departure model be applied to nontraditional students? Adult Education Quarterly, 43(2), 90-100.

Carter, J. (2007). Utilizing technology in academic advising. Retrieved February 28, 2008, from the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site: www.nacada.ksu.edu/clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/Technology.htm#tech

Jacobs, D. (2006, October 7). Different online social networks draw different age groups: Report. Retrieved September 12, 2007, from the International Business Times at www.ibtimes.com/services/pop_print.htm?id=9560&tb=bh

Sloan Consortium, The (2006). Online nation: Five years of growth in online learning. Retrieved February 28, 2008, from www.sloan-c.org/publications/survey/pdf/online_nation.pdf

Sotto, R.R. (2000). Technological delivery systems. In V.N. Gordon, W.R. Habley, & Associates (Eds.). Academic advising: A comprehensive handbook. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, Inc.

Steele, G., & Carter, A. (2002, December). Managing electronic communication technologies for more effective advising. The Academic Advising News, 25(4). Retrieved February 28, 2008, from the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site: www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/electronic.htm

Tinto, V. (1998). Colleges as communities: Taking research on student persistence seriously. The Review of Higher Education, 21.2, 167-177.

Tinto, V. (2006). Research and practice of student retention: What next. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, 8 (1), 1-19.

Using Strengths-Based Advising to Promote Persistence and Restructure 'One Size Fits All' Advising Models

Tammy A. Russell, First-Generation College Student Advising Interest Group Member


Are students’ first-semester course schedules setting them up for academic failure? A common advising practice is to assign first semester course schedules based solely on students’ intended majors. This system may make the initial advising process easier. However, the practice begs advisors to ask if retention comparisons have been made between students who entered college after completing a rigorous high school curriculum and those students who entered college meeting only the minimum admission standards? Were both populations successful with the typical 16 credit semester hour schedule? Were first semester students who met lower admission standards better served by a less rigorous 12 credit semester hour schedule?

Do students meet individually with advisors from their assigned academic department during summer orientation programs or does the registrar’s office assign a schedule based solely on the students’ intended major? In both situations too much concern can be directed toward math/science heavy schedules without consideration of majors loaded with curriculum content heavy in reading and writing. If the first semester schedule is loaded with social and behavioral sciences and humanities courses, how well will a student do academically who is entering the institution with a 2.00 high school cumulative grade point average, “C’s” in high school English and History, or low entrance test scores in verbal areas?

Not only is the curriculum content of each course important when advising students, but the teaching pedagogy practiced in each course is an important advising consideration. How many multiple-choice exams will be given during a particular course? How many papers will be required of students? Advisors must also take into consideration whether a combination of courses fits with the students’ learning strengths. Advising can be difficult and involve far more than following a department “course schedule model.” Institutions that encourage advisors not to look at all pertinent information inadvertently put students at risk.

Individuals responsible for first semester schedule planning should learn something from the typical high school schedule. High school students tend to enroll in a combination of curricula each year: English and Math are combined with Art, Health, and Physical Education. Other courses typically found on high school students’ schedules include Social Studies and Science. When students enroll in college, they are often loaded with courses heavy in one or two areas; their schedules may not provide for a balance among curriculum content and teaching pedagogy or be suited to students’ learning strengths. Applying a strengths-based model of advising will not only help students with first term schedule planning, but will help students focus more on their own academic strengths rather than their weaknesses.

Student motivation is a foundation of strengths-based advising which puts the focus on students’ possibilities and not on the students’ problems (Schreiner & Anderson, 2005). Self-reflection allows students to define themselves as individuals. What in-born talents do I have? What skills appear to come naturally? Do my strengths match my current academic direction? Schreiner and Anderson (2005) noted that strengths-based advising practices differ from development advising practices in that advisors help students focus on the situations, both in and out of class, that enable students to be successful. This advising model can also help undecided first-year students successfully choose a major and focus on academic talents rather than future employment and academic deficiencies. Not every student should major in business or pre-medicine as an undergraduate!

Anderson and McGuire (1997) propose that a strengths-based approach can lead to increased self-motivation in students. Information providers tend to focus on what recipients need to know in order to improve instead of the strengths people bring to an environment. This statement is true for a variety of relationships including, among others, supervisory, parenting, classroom management, and advising. Academic advisors play many roles as students progress through our institutions. Helping students increase their levels of positive self-reflection can help students increase the expectations they set for themselves and lead students to regularly view themselves as positively engaged and academically talented. Positively engaged students leave advising sessions reflecting on their strengths rather than focusing on their deficiencies.

 Assessing current advising practices is important to student success. Strengths-based advising can help advisors focus on students’ strengths. When we implement an advising model best suited to students’ strengths, we increase students’ chances of success at our institutions.

Tammy A. Russell
Director, Academic Services & Learning Support
Mount Aloysius College


Anderson, E., & McGuire, W. (1997). Academic advising for student success and retention: An Advising perspective. In M. Hovland, E. Anderson, W. McGuire, D. Crockett, J. Kaufman, and D. Woodward (Eds.), Academic advising for student success and retention. Iowa City: USA Group Noel-Levitz.

Schreiner, L. A. & Anderson, E. (2005). Strengths-Based Advising: A New Lens for Higher Education. NACADA Journal, 25 (2), 20-27.

Graduate Advisors are Essential When 'Real Life' Gets in the Way

Kelli Moore, James Madison University


A good advisor is essential when “real life” gets in the way. In graduate school, it is very possible for students to fall through the cracks. As a “recovering” graduate student and now an academic advisor, I have found some keys that can help students manage a graduate program, especially when students must navigate through a host of “real life” issues.

For me, real life got in the way several years ago. For many years, my elderly father took care of my mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease. About halfway through my doctoral program, my father became severely ill and debilitated. I had many of the problems faced by those in midlife, but no infrastructure to ameliorate the problems. I was a thousand miles away, no house, no job, no money, and had yet to finish my educational investment.

It seemed that I could no longer afford the indulgence of a graduate degree, but neither could I afford to stop. Half of a degree is simply not marketable, and I was not one for quitting. After all, I was passionate about my field and I wanted it to pay off. As my parents’ condition deteriorated, I needed it to pay off. I was determined to finish.

I finished my doctoral degree and hit the job market. As I made plans to move closer to my parents, the reality of today’s academic job market sank in. The academic lifestyle that requires moving to the job was unsustainable while caring for an elderly parent.

Since completing my program, I have thought a great deal about the kind of support universities can offer their graduate students. Now as an academic advisor, I understand even more fully how important the partnership of academic and career advisors is to graduate students. What can make this process easier? Graduate departments vary greatly in their willingness and ability to provide support. The university, however, should anticipate problems that graduate students might have before challenges arise and make students aware of resources and options.

One good option, typically free for students, is a university’s counseling center. Counseling center personnel must be aware of the graduate population. Graduate students are older and may not only have elderly parents, but also marriages, children, and real life experiences that affect them. Graduate students also can use not just general counseling, but career counseling. A good career counselor or advisor should discuss a back up plan with graduate students. If students must leave their program, a shorter back up plan is a great alternative to the 10-year plan often needed to finish a doctoral degree. Graduate school is a lifestyle choice and academic life may or may not mesh well with personal situations.

Graduate students also may need to know the procedures for taking a leave of absence from the university, the policies concerning completion of the comprehensive exam in another place, and the options and consequences for changing an academic program midstream. Getting definitive answers to questions is essential.

Most importantly, graduate students should anticipate potential problems as they make their choice of graduate schools. More specifically, the following advice is useful for graduate students who might be faced with family emergencies, especially those occurring at a distance.


  • Plan your research. Make a research plan that is compatible with your caregiving responsibilities (although you study Parliament, a trip to Europe may not be practical). You might not be able to study exactly what you want, but you will have a clear path to a finished dissertation.
  • Consider location. Doctoral programs are long and, although coursework can be finished often in a couple of years, there may be other compelling reasons to continue to stay at your university, e.g. teaching opportunities or access to professors/resources. Set up a research plan that will allow you to work remotely should the best university for your discipline be a few hundred miles away.
  • Have a back up plan. Be prepared to graduate with a master’s degree in case real life gets in the way. There is nothing worse than having little to show for the effort that you have put into your educational investment.
  • Tell someone. Even if you don’t have an advisor, there may be professors and other graduate students going through similar issues. Those who have gone through a similar experience are supportive, even if just with a knowing nod. More importantly, tell someone in your hometown so that they can be supportive in your absence.
  • Lifestyle. Committing to a doctoral program and choosing to be a full-time student for an average of six years is a lifestyle choice. Consider how this lifestyle will fit into life’s responsibilities and consider a worse case scenario before getting in too deep.
  • Good choices. If you are a first generation graduate student your family and friends may not understand why you are still “in college” and not tending to your more tangible caregiving responsibilities. Explain your program responsibilities and outline what you are able and unable to do for your family.
  • Flexibility. Graduate school can have responsibilities that exceed a full-time job, but can also provide the flexibility needed to deal with personal issues. In this sense, time and technology are great benefits.

Graduate school can be tough. The biggest challenge is finishing; students’ best ally is a flexible schedule. Discipline and working with others can help graduate students see the light at the end of the tunnel. It can be done. Parents, professors, and society encourage education, yet at the highest echelons of education, some students may find that there is not enough support. Advisors can help students strategize and find the inner strength and the discipline needed to complete what they began.

Kelli Moore
Academic Adviser/Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science
James Madison University

Preparing for Action in the Green Mountains

Steven Viveiros, 2007 NACADA Summer Institute Scholarship Recipient 

Steve Viveiros.jpg

It was the end of June, the weather in New England was warm, and I was headed to Burlington, Vermont to begin an incredible professional experience. The NACADA Academic Advising Summer Institute brought together over 100 advising professionals with experts in the field to work on impacting student success at campuses across the nation. As a Summer Institute Scholarship winner, I was fortunate to engage in a variety of programs, workshops and other sessions that provided me with a solid foundation in advising. All this learning afforded me the opportunity to take the next step with the advising program at my institution.

Upon arrival, we all convened for our first large group session on the Foundations of Advising; we got to work right from the start. This session provided some good insight for what to expect during the week. I felt something very different happening. This was not your average conference. This was not a drive-in workshop. This was an institute, an academic experience, and a refreshing start to the consideration of academic advising holistically.

Soon thereafter, we had an opportunity to mingle, meet, and network with colleagues from around the nation. In all honesty, I thought Vermont would draw advising professionals mainly from the northeast region. I was pleasantly surprised to meet colleagues who had traveled from as far as Texas and California. Their desire to travel such a distance demonstrated the tremendous worth of this opportunity.

To close the first day of the institute, we gathered in our Small Groups. This group came to serve as support and a pool of expert consultants. It was clear that the Small Group meetings were where the “rubber would meet the road.” We learned about each other, our backgrounds, and our initial thoughts on the development of an Action Plan. Led by NACADA charter member Tom Grites, the individuals in our Small Group started right away with defining our goals for the week and considering how we could use the various large group lectures, workshops, and topical sessions to shape those plans. There was work to be done; it would not be easy, but the comprehensive institute was intentionally organized to supplement the needs of our individual efforts.

As a new advising administrator, I was charged with looking at extending our first-year advising program to include meeting the needs of first-years in their second semester, as well as folding in transfer students in the future. Beyond my focus, I also found it advantageous to tap into the expertise of the faculty teaching at the Institute to extend my understanding of advising, given my new role. I was able to tailor the week through the selection of certain workshops and topical sessions that met particular needs for my situation. This flexibility allowed each participant to tailor their experiences as well as make the most of the large group sessions that discussed key topics in the field of advising over the next five days.

We all engaged in learning about advising structures and systems, research and development, and of course, politics and personalities as they pertain to setting an agenda for advising on our campuses. I was the apprentice and these masters bestowed their knowledge and gave me tools to create a strong program on my campus. This seemed to be the shared sentiment of all who joined me in Vermont: we were there to work, but we had some fun along the way too.

Mid-week we embarked on a voyage. We headed to the high seas of Lake Champlain for dinner, dancing, and relaxation. It was time to let loose and break away from our immersion in advising, and many of us did. I came to realize that Tom Grites was not only an exceptional advising expert, he was also a pretty good dancer! In no time, we had our entire small group showing the rest of the Institute how to bust a move. Ah, yes! A well deserved break was essential, and the night was capped off with an incredible sunset and some cookie dough ice cream at Ben and Jerry’s.

Enough fun was had, and now the final days of the Institute meant accomplishing some work. It might sound like a lot, but it was like running that marathon, mile after mile, and then in the end, realizing you had come a long way and accomplished a great deal. By the close of the week, we had the opportunity to meet individually with these advising mentors, develop some significant Action Plans for our individual programs, and discuss the realities of bringing these initiatives back to our campuses.

I left on Friday both energized and exhausted; I spent the next three hours on the road thinking about the tremendous amount I had learned, the relationships I had built, and the confidence I had developed to take significant steps towards improving the advising program on my campus. I felt as though I belonged as well. Summer Institute was a shared experience with other colleagues who care about the students we support; it was a professional development experience unlike any other.

I realize this might sound too good to be true, but it is real. Even today as I considered how I would write about my experience, I reconnected with a colleague I met at the Institute. We both were attending a meeting on transfer student issues in Texas. We made an immediate connection and realized that a bridge of support followed. We reflected on our time in Vermont, discussed our struggles and successes on our respective campuses, and planned to connect in the near future regarding the common needs of our advising programs. I credit the Institute with fostering this type of collegial network, and of course, with teaching me the vast array of themes and matters pertaining to advising in higher education. Just when I thought I knew it all, I realized I had much more to learn, and much more work to accomplish in order to create opportunities for student success. Many thanks and my dearest appreciation goes to the 2007 faculty of the NACADA Summer Institute in Vermont for all that they shared of themselves and their genuine passion for supporting students.

Steven Viveiros
Assistant Director
Academic Achievement Center
Bridgewater State College

Seize the Opportunity and Live Life Abundantly, with Overflow!

Cornelius K. Gilbert, NACADA Emerging Leader 


CARPE DIEM – a well known saying that many people believe – exhorts us to make the most of every opportunity in these days. Although a very old adage, I have found personal proof of its timelessness in my involvement with NACADA.

I became an Academic Advisor in July 2001, and before long I was blessed to not only become a member of NACADA, but also to become active and engaged in the Association. Since I joined NACADA some years ago, the organization has continued to grow and develop. In the previous edition of this publication,Charlie Nutt,NACADA’s Executive Director, declared his happiness with the rapid pace of increased membership. To his delight, Charlie noted NACADA’s membership at over 10,000 strong – perhaps by the time you read this, we’ll have reached 11,000!

NACADA’s exponential growth is a clear indicator of the wealth of opportunities for members to become active within the organization. As a young professional developing my career, NACADA has proved to be a tremendous blessing to me not only professionally, but personally as well. In fact, I have found NACADA to be a sort of “Promised Land.”

When I first became active in NACADA, I had absolutely no idea of the good things in store for me. I originally began on a micro scale by attending annual WACADA (state) conferences in Wisconsin. It was not until 2003 that I attended my first Regional Conference. My school, the University of Wisconsin (main campus located in Madison, WI) was hosting Region V that year. For the conference, I submitted a proposal and was fortunate to present a paper I had published. From there, I attended another WACADA conference in Green Bay. At the Green Bay conference, I approached and introduced myself to Charlie Nutt at the conclusion of his keynote address. Since that time, Charlie and I have remained in contact and always speak with one another at NACADA’s annual meeting. Our relationship grew, and Charlie supported my application into my Ph.D. program at the University of Wisconsin by writing a letter of recommendation for me.

NACADA has been a place of encouragement and excitement for me as well. Leigh Cunningham (NACADA’s Coordinator of Educational Programming), Gary Cunningham (NACADA’s IT Manager), Julia Wolf (NACADA’s Assistant Director of Operations and Administration), and so many others have welcomed me into NACADA with warm and open arms and have afforded me plenty of opportunities that have helped me in my professional development. I can honestly say that NACADA pays attention to their people, and am I very grateful for the suggestions I have received for a variety of projects that members think might be a great fit for me. For example, a few summers ago, Leigh contacted me to see if I would be interested in writing for Academic Advising Today. Needless to say, I was delighted to do so and produced a piece entitled Improving Academic Advisor Preparation through Cultural Self-Awareness.

Since that time, I have presented at WACADA and numerous annual conferences. The 2005 NACADA-Las Vegas Annual Conference holds my fondest memory. It was there I was blessed to present some original research regarding an examination of the nexus between hip hop and the practice of academic advising. I have been truly blessed to enjoy a great amount of accomplishment within NACADA, because NACADA Leaders and Executive Office staff are willing to help develop and promote their members. Another example is the organization’s Emerging Leaders Program. I recognize the opportunities that were presented with this new program, and I am thankful I was able to seize them and am benefiting from them to become a better equipped professional.Jenny Bloom, NACADA’s President, is serving as my mentor, and she has truly helped and supported me in my professional development this year.

The door for my most recent opportunity was opened not by the “great folks” within the organization, but by fellow Academic Advisors and advising administrators. For it was with YOUR vote that I was elected to begin a two-year term as Chair of the Multicultural Concerns Commission when Kris Rugsaken of Ball State University has completed his term following the Annual Conference in Chicago this October. It will be quite a challenge to follow Kris and all of the positive work he has accomplished during his term!

I cannot say enough positive and exciting things about NACADA and how the organization and its people have influenced my life and my professional development! To my mind, NACADA is nothing short of being a land of opportunity overflowing with milk and honey for those with a desire to become involved. NACADA believes in the abilities of its members and for those with the desire to act upon their own faith by becoming involved will find that NACADA continues to advance the advising profession towards excellence and greatness not only for us as professionals, but more importantly for the students we serve!

Cornelius K. Gilbert
University of Wisconsin-Madison


2008 NACADA Leadership Position Election Results

The election of NACADA leadership positions for terms beginning in October 2008 began on February 1, 2008 when the online voting system was made accessible to all eligible voting NACADA members. Login information and passwords were e-mailed individually to members. The positions for which candidates were seeking election included NACADA President, Vice President, Board of Directors members, Region Chairs, Commission Chairs, and Standing Committee Chairs. The election process for these positions concluded on February 22 after which all valid votes were tallied. These newly elected leaders will begin their terms in October 2008 following the Annual Conference in Chicago.

The elections of the Division Representatives for the Administrative and Regional Divisions for the two-year term of October 2008-October 2010 were held immediately after the conclusion of the general elections. Current and newly elected Standing Committee Chairs along with the Advisory Board Chairs participated in the voting process for the elected Administrative Division Representative position. Current and newly elected Region Chairs participated in the voting process for the elected Regional Division Representative position. The incoming appointed Division Representative for the Commission and Interest Group Division will also soon be named, and that individual will also begin a two-year term in October 2008 following the annual conference.

The 2008 leadership election results are as follows:

Board of Directors:
President (1-year term, 2008-2009):Casey Self (Arizona State University)
Vice President (1-year term, 2008-2009):Jayne Drake(Temple University)

Board of Directors (3-year term each, 2008-2011):
Kazi Mamun(University of California, Riverside)
Celeste Pardee(University of Arizona)
Kathy Stockwell(Fox Valley Technical College)

Division Representatives (2-year term, 2008-2010):
Administrative Division Representative:Jermaine Williams (Temple University)
Regional Division Representative: Kyle Ellis (University of Mississippi)
Commission & Interest Group Division Representative: Jennifer Joslin (University of Iowa)

Region Chairs(2008-2010):
Mid-Atlantic Region 2: Kathie Sindt (Johns Hopkins University)
Southeast Region 4: Doug Waddell (Florida State University)
North Central Region 6: Pat Mason-Browne (University of Iowa)
Northwest Region 8: Brett McFarlane (Oregon State University)
Rocky Mountain Region 10: Dawn Fettig (University of Colorado)

Commission Chairs(2008-2010):
Advising Administration: Janet Spence (University of Louisville)
Advising Students with Disabilities :LaDonna Bridges (Framingham State College)
Advising Transfer Students: Amanda Hatton (University of Utah)
Assessment of Advising: Richard Ribb (University of Texas at Austin)
Engineering & Science Advising: Dan King (Michigan State University)
Faculty Advising: Vicki McGillin (Texas Woman’s University)
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered & Allies Concerns: Mark Vegter (Illinois State University)
Multicultural Concerns: Cornelius Gilbert (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Small Colleges & Universities: Kristi Quiros (Texas Lutheran University)
Undecided & Exploratory Students: Kathleen Smith (Florida State University)

Committee Chairs(2008-2010):
Finance Committee: Joanne Damminger (Rowan University)
Membership Committee: Rodney Mondor (University of Southern Maine)
Research Committee: Peter Hagen (Richard Stockton College of New Jersey)

The NACADA Board of Directors and the Executive Office appreciate the time that NACADA members took to study the qualifications and platform statements of the candidates and cast their votes online. We also thank all individuals who participated in the election — the candidates who ran for office as well as those who nominated them. Congratulations to those who have been elected to leadership positions. Their willingness to make this commitment to NACADA is greatly appreciated.

If you or a colleague are interested in serving in a NACADA Leadership position and would like to become a candidate in next year’s elections, more information is available on our Web site. Be sure to watch the monthly Member Highlights for more information on these elections and the nomination process.


It takes but one SPARK to ignite the flame for an idea. Does your campus have an unusual or exceptional process or program that could spark an idea on another campus? If so, tell us about it in 350 words or less. Send your 'Sparkler' to Leigh@ksu.edu

This edition’s SPARKLERs come from Debra Shores (Jefferson College) and Janet Foster Goodwill (Yakima Valley Community College).


Debra Shores tells us that as a small Midwestern community college with a student body comprising a significant number of first generation and low income students, the Jefferson College Advising & Retention Center is doing something unique and practical in the midst of the nation’s economic downturn to teach students about the value of dressing for career success on an extremely limited income. For the past two years, Jefferson College’s Advising & Retention Center has hosted a Frugal Fashion Show that teaches students – many of whom have a quality of life near or below the poverty level – that it is possible, faced with a budget of only $10, to secure a professional outfit suitable for a job interview. The participating student and faculty “models” represent a variety of ages and body types. Each participant obtained their $10 outfit from a local thrift shop, business and campus donation, family member, or Ebay®. The entire event is a volunteer effort and has been well received. Not only does the Frugal Fashion Show teach an inspiring, realistic economic lesson to those who attend and participate, but it also directly benefits students in the college’s Career and 

JeffersonGroup.jpgTechnical Education (CTE) programs who are allowed to choose one free outfit from an entire room of donated clothing following the program. The Frugal Fashion Show is a real-world learning opportunity that provides a significant boost in confidence and self-esteem prior to seeking employment. Additionally, those who attend can apply what they learn from the fashion show in order to prepare for the annual Jefferson College Job Fair held each spring. For more information on the Frugal Fashion Show, contact Deb at dshores@jeffco.edu.

Janet Foster Goodwill, Yakima Valley Community College Criminal Justice Instructor and Program Chair for the YVCC Criminal Justice Career Fair, tells us that in 2001 she accepted the challenge of creating an innovative way to recruit students for the Criminal Justice program at her institution. With the aid of the Justice Club, a campus club for which she serves as Advisor, Janet held the First Annual Criminal Justice Job Fair in May 2001 with just a dozen agencies representing police, institutional and community corrections in attendance. Janet says, “I had never done a career fair before,” and that first year she “made the big mistake of doing it on a Friday afternoon!” However, the highly successful event is now in its seventh year, and what began as a local event has evolved to a multi-state career fair. In 2007, over 40 different agencies representing the local, state, and federal levels in law enforcement, community corrections, and institutional corrections attended. Janet explains that there is no charge to the career fair participants, and refreshments are provided to the presenters via community donations, contributions, and student fundraising. Students develop leadership and organizational skills by being put in charge of the various components of a successful career fair, including set-up, parking, food, posters and advertisement, photography, and take-down. Janet delegates the various responsibilities to them and supervises to make sure all of the pieces fall into place. The career fair is open to the public and advertisement is accomplished through free public service announcements, posters, and advertisement of the event on the college’s electronic reader board. Janet collaborates with the Engineering department to use CADD to print posters; her design identifies the agencies in attendance by using their logo or department patch as the outside border. Janet believes that the career fair has helped CJ students speak directly to agencies about internships, volunteer, and career opportunities and is proud to say that many of the graduates have returned to represent their agencies at the career fair. For more information on the YVCC Criminal Justice Career Fair, contact Janet at jgoodwill@yvcc.edu

Posted in: 2008 June 31:2


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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.