This is my first newsletter column as your president for this next year. First, I would to like to let you know how much of an honor it is to serve you in this capacity. I have been actively involved in NACADA since l983 and have witnessed its tremendous growth, but perhaps more important, watched as NACADA, as a professional association, has taken on a vital role in higher education. Quality academic advising is as important as ever for the success of our students. NACADA, as the premiere association devoted exclusively to encouraging the very best of academic advising practices, has a most important part to play in this success. I believe that as a professional association we have risen to the challenge, but there is still much that needs to be done.
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A short while ago I was talking with a student about academic advising. I casually mentioned that it is important that students become familiar with the degree audit system at Penn State and use it often. The student first responded by agreeing that the Penn State system was good, but then said (much to my surprise and I paraphrase): But if we encourage students to use the degree audit, they won’t ever see their advisors. And then it hit me—how often advising is confused with scheduling and registration procedures and how easy it is to assume that some form of technology can replace human contact and interaction.
It was recently announced that the American Association of Higher Education (AAHE) is closing its doors. As president of NACADA, this stunning announcement gave me reason to think about NACADA’s future. While I can only speculate as to the reasons for AAHE having to shut down (much of the public statement had to do with declining membership and the concomitant financial issues), it seems like a good time to raise some questions about how NACADA functions and what our future can look like.
I find myself at this time more than halfway through my year long presidency. You have already elected a new president (Jo Anne Huber from the University of Texas-Austin) to take office in October at the end of our National Conference in Las Vegas, and the editor of Academic Advising Today tells me that this is my last column as president. The natural tendency might be to do some sort of reflection on the past year, but I think I will reserve that for another forum. Suffice it to say that NACADA continues to grow in numbers (we have now exceeded 8200 members), and we are looking forward to a capacity crowd in Las Vegas.