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Voices of the Global Community


Carol A. Cartwright, 2004 NACADA Pacesetter Award Recipient

Public universities exist for the public good. That statement of our historic role implies a social compact based on trust: Students realize that, regardless of tuition prices, higher education is the best investment they will make in their long-term economic futures. Those students trust the university to provide an education that is not only of a high quality but also adaptable to changing employment conditions and capable of improving the quality of their lives.

At Kent State University, to meet the demands of state budget cuts, we have reallocated resources and streamlined processes, but always with the goal of protecting that public trust by keeping our academic programs strong and nourishing student success. Our studies show that students succeed most often when we have made some personal connection that ties them to the university. Academic advisors play a crucial role in linking this human touch with our university mission.

We all have a story of someone who supported us, gave us inspiration, looked out for our well being, and generally encouraged us to achieve. Advisors, whether they are full-time professional advisors or faculty in an advising role, represent the direct contact that is so important to promoting student success and connectedness to the institution. At Kent State, the influence of our advisors is obvious. We feel it is essential in turn to provide systematic approaches that ensure our academic advising continues to assist us in supporting and retaining our students.

Kent State's current strategic plan focuses on meeting the needs of the people served by the university - 'stakeholders' that include everyone from students to the businesses that hire them. In order to provide leadership on the objectives, we must understand the needs. When we attempt to specify the desires of the student body we find that students respond best to individuals and offices that offer direct, instant contact. It is for this reason that we have worked diligently for a strong advising network at Kent State University. Advisors represent direct communication and outreach to the student body, and the relationships they create with students promote educational as well as lifelong success.

Since my arrival at Kent State in 1991, we have established the Student Advising Center with eight full-time advisors to assist exploratory students, created the Retention Advising Initiative with eight advisors who focus on freshman students, developed a Faculty Advising Workshop Series to enable an annual cohort of 30 faculty members to hone their advising skills, and established the Kent Academic Support & Advising Association to encourage professional development and research for all advising staff and faculty.

With our priorities driving decision-making, we reallocated resources to substantially enhance advising services. These efforts primarily benefit students through higher educational achievement. But when we enhance our educational mission, we also better serve the institution, community, and state. The result is a better informed public that understands the importance of education and its positive role in society. Effective advising fosters students who are more likely to be advocates about the need for educational funding, more likely to stay active with the university, and more likely to share their views on education with future generations. As graduates, they also contribute to the social, economic and cultural climate of the nation. The entire process begins with the initial relationship.

A university's senior leadership cannot interact with every student as much as we would like to. Our best course as a university is to maintain a strong academic institution and to support advisors and advising programs. As a public university whose mission is improving the economic and cultural life of our state, we depend on the important contributions academic advisors make to student success.

Carol A. Cartwright, President
Kent State University
2004 NACADA Pacesetter Award Recipient

Cite this article using APA style as: Cartwright, C. (2004, September). Supporting academic advising: serving our stakeholders. Academic Advising Today, 27(3). [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.