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In 1987, Summer Institute founder Wes Habley – who was completing his two-year term as NACADA's president – had recently accepted a position as Associate Director of the ACT National Center. The role of the Center was to develop conferences and workshops on a variety of topics in higher education. Habley recalls that it had become clear to him "that academic advising was unlike any other student support service. It afforded the continuing process of engaging students in a positive and meaningful way about important educational and career decisions." From the "huge groundswell of interest in advising" that he had witnessed in his thirteen years as an advisor, Habley knew "that advising was as exciting to many, many other people as it was to me…My new role with ACT provided a venue to develop and lead conferences and workshops. As a result, we offered the first Summer Institute at the University of Iowa in 1987."

PeggyKing.jpgThere were 56 participants that first year, and the faculty included Peggy King, Virginia Gordon, Sara Looney, and Mike Keller. Peggy King is the only SI faculty member, besides founder Wes Habley, who has served at the Institute every year since its inception. King says, "I remember feeling so honored when Wes Habley asked me to serve on the faculty of the first Summer Institute on Academic Advising. I had the advantage of being one of the only two-year college people who got involved with NACADA at the very beginning, and Wes wanted that perspective represented on the faculty. And to be involved in the creation of something new related to the work I loved doing was really exciting!

The first institutes were held at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, a city I came to enjoy tremendously. They were small – you got to know the participants – and while we worked hard, we always had fun. I have great memories of getting to know the other faculty who became involved over the years and who have become close friends, of getting to know many of the participants and always learning from them, of early morning walks along the Iowa River and watching the baby ducks, of the boat trips on Thursday evening where the entire group dined and danced to the music of Electric Leroy, of the wonderful steaks we had at our faculty dinner at LB’s Steakhouse, and of shopping in the Lands End Outlet store in downtown!


It was both challenging and exciting to plan that first Institute. But it was even more exciting to meet with the faculty following the conclusion of that Institute and the ones that followed, to realize how successful each one had been, and then to modify the format and content to make it even better for the future. The teamwork that went into that planning in the early years was very special.

Once the Institutes grew and we started moving them around the country, they provided wonderful ways to meet new people, to help many individuals become more engaged in their advising activities, and to see cities and institutions I would never have the chance to visit. Looking back over the years, the SI in Madison (1997) stands out for me. While I’ve always enjoyed my small groups, that group really connected and, because of a task we were assigned in preparation for our Institute dinner (to create an advertisement for NACADA), I think I laughed my way through the Institute (and we won the contest!). We’ve never been asked to do that since! Many of those small group members have gone on to take an active role within NACADA, so that was an added plus."

1988faculty,jpgJerry Ford and Tom Brown joined the SI faculty (left) in its second year. The 1988 faculty members were:

Seated: Gary Kramer, Carol Ryan, Buddy Ramos
Standing: Wes Habley, Al Hood, Peggy King, Jerry Ford, Tom Brown

1993faculty.jpgIn 1993, SI was organized for the first time through the NACADA Executive Office, with Executive Director Bobbie Flaherty (front, right) and EO staff assisting with event management. Flaherty remembers that "it was exciting to welcome the SI to NACADA and to facilitate its growth outside of Iowa City, where ACT had provided its solid foundation."

Faculty that year included Carol Ryan, Jerry Ford, Tom Brown, Wes Habley, Buddy Ramos, Gary Kramer,and Peggy King. Staff were Donna Appleglise (ACT), Bobbie Flaherty, and Joan Kohake.

Diane&Wes.jpgDiane Matteson began serving as the NACADA Event Coordinator for 1995 SI at Copper Mountain, Colorado, and each year since then she has worked with Wes Habley to make sure all is ready for the participants' arrival. "Planning and organizing the day-to-day details for this event is a pleasure," says Matteson, "in large part because people involved in this profession are other-centered, rather than self-centered. This makes it easy for me to not only complete my responsibilities, but to have fun in the process. It's a privilege to meet and work with so many people who contribute so much to their students and institutions."

RemySottoGroup.jpgFaculty member Remy Sotto fondly recalls SI 2003 in San Diego, when her Small Group took a moment to 'smell the roses.' Sotto says, "It is a privilege and joy to serve as a NACADA Summer Institute faculty member. The privilege is the opportunity to guide lively and in-depth discussions on advising concepts and ideas with veteran and novice participants. This sharing energizes, inspires and challenges us to improve and enhance our profession. The joy is the interaction and networking with colleagues. During six program-packed days, we not only share ideas, but also laughs and smiles. It is great fun to be a Summer Institute faculty member – exhausting too, but I’ll focus on the FUN."


Also in San Diego in 2003, SI participants give a 'C' for 'Charlie' (Nutt), NACADA Associate Director. Nutt explains, "Participants work very hard during this intense week-long Institute. Because of this, we always have one evening for just fun. This gives everyone a chance to network, let their hair down, and enjoy themselves!"


Jennifer Bloom, who joined the SI faculty in Chicago in 2004, recalls that 'being asked to participate on the faculty of the NACADA Summer Institute was one of the biggest honors of my professional career. The opportunity to not only work with some of the most prestigious names in the field of academic advising, but also to learn from the SI participants, was amazing. I still am in contact with my SI 2005 Small Group and look forward to maintaining those connections. The Summer Institute changes lives – I know it has changed mine."

The 2005 Institutes were held in St. Paul, Minnesota and Colorado Springs, Colorado.


In St. Paul, Betsy McCalla-Wriggins' Small Group (left) enjoyed the local character.

2005 Faculty StPaul.jpg

McCalla-Wriggins, along with faculty members Alice Reinarz, Eric White, and Nancy King (right) – and all of the SI participants – also enjoyed a dinner cruise on the Mississippi River.

CharlieNutt.jpgCaseySelfSmGroup.jpgIn Colorado Springs,Charlie Nutt (left) presented all aspects of the situation to his Small Group, while other participants discussed their Action Plans with faculty member Casey Self (right).

Gaya-Gonzalez and Oquendo.jpgLillian Gaya-Gonzalez and Carmen Oquendo (Inter American University of Puerto Rico) explained that their experience at Summer Institute 2005 in Colorado Springs helped them define their ideas.  "When we came here, we didn't have a clear picture of what we wanted to do, and our Action Plan was not very defined.  After you go through all the lectures, and especially the Small Group discussions, you get a lot of ideas and a lot of tips on how you should focus your energy and how you should direct your Action Plan…The best thing is that it gives you time to think about different models of programs that you can make at your institution, and you have that time out of your normal environment, so that makes you feel better and you just concentrate on one thing… academic advising.  We didn't know at the beginning that there were different professionals who do advising, and that was very enlightening for us… We also realized that without assessment, we would not be able to do a good job, even if we have the desire and energy.  Assessment is really important, and it is something that we have not paid too much attention to."

Erin Kilbride.jpgErin Kilbride shared the exciting results of the Action Plan she created during Summer Institute 2005.  As a result of Erin's work at the Institute, her advising office in the Kelley School of Business Indianapolis (IUPUI) is offering a new online advising option to its undergraduate and Evening MBA students.  Using "instant messaging" technology, students are now able to interact online with a live Kelley advisor who can respond to questions and offer basic advice.  Although they stress that online advising is a convenience for students, not a substitute for face-to-face advising, the Kelley advisors feel that the online advising lets students get answers quickly and use their face-to-face meetings – which often have to be scheduled weeks ahead of time – to discuss more substantive issues.  In a recent press release, Jane Lambert, Kelley Indianapolis' Executive Director of Academic Programs, said "This is an effort to help students with the task of juggling classes, homework, work and life commitments… We want to use every tool available to us to make more information available - this (instant messaging) technology has become very popular, and we're pleased to be able to use it to make life easier for students."

Therese Montoya.jpgTherese Montoya (Lower Columbia College) says of her experience at the 2005 Summer Institute in Colorado Springs, "This is a great opportunity for staff and administrators and faculty, because there's a firm foundation provided for the value of academic advising.  There's more to it than what one would think, and it's a great training opportunity… When I got here, I had some trepidation about exactly what I was getting myself into, but the organizers have really helped us to focus on one issue that we wanted to solve, and there's a number of avenues for getting to the nitty-gritty on things, from people that are attending the Institute as well as from the people that are providing this service… It's energizing."

Ramon Walker.jpgRamon Walker (left, Regis University) said that he really enjoyed Summer Institute 2005 in Colorado Springs.  "The faculty were outstanding.  The subject matter was extremely relevant to what I do at my university.  Another thing that I really liked is they put all the presentations in a binder to take with you.  I really recommend the experience."

Michael H. Turpin (Kilgore College), 2002 Winner of a Summer Institute Scholarship, has concluded, "My Summer Institute experience was great. It not only validated some of my own ideas, plans, and practices, but also gave me some very practical suggestions for enhancing our institution's advising program. It gave me time to get away from my office telephone and all of the "projects" sitting on my desk and allowed me to focus on what was going on within our advising program. We've been able to implement some of the suggestions and ideas I gleaned during the Institute, and we have a stronger advising program as a result. With shrinking dollars allocated to professional development, the Summer Institute scholarship helped make my attendance a reality. I enthusiastically recommend it to individuals and to institutions' advising teams." 


As he has done every year, Wes Habley presented a General Session at SI Colorado Springs in 2005. Habley notes that while 'there are facets of the SI that have remained relatively constant over the years…there have also been significant changes." The entire curriculum of the Institute is reviewed every year by the SI Advisory Board, and sessions are modified, new content is introduced, and the number of workshops and topical sessions is expanded as needed.
"Twenty years ago," says Habley, "I had no idea that this effort would have 20 years of staying power...the fact that we are entering our 20th year is amazing to me. It makes me feel proud and old at the same time."

Cite this article using APA style as: Let's take a walk down Summer Institute memory lane.(2006, February). Academic Advising Today, 29(1). Retrieved from [insert url here]


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Academic Advising Today, a NACADA member benefit, is published four times annually by NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. NACADA holds exclusive copyright for all Academic Advising Today articles and features. For complete copyright and fair use information, including terms for reproducing material and permissions requests, see Publication Guidelines.