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Voices of the Global Community

Entries for 2004

Multicultural awareness is essential for academic advisors, for our cultural identity "is central to what we see, how we make sense of what we see, and how we express ourselves."

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Happy New Year and best wishes for a fulfilling and healthy 2004. As we begin a new year, it seems appropriate to provide the NACADA community with an update of current initiatives, and a review of the professional development opportunities available throughout the coming year.

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As a means to assess how well this association is meeting the needs of its members, we have initiated a series of three surveys seeking member feedback. The first survey, completed in November and early December 2003, was directed toward persons who had been members for one or more years, while the second survey in December 2003, was completed by new members (less than one year). A third survey, to be completed in late February, will go to individuals who have not renewed their membership.

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Native Americans have always valued education and learning, and many are accomplished science and mathematics practitioners (traditional healers, herbalists, astronomers, builders, etc). Even so, it is ironic that today approximately 50% of Native Americans will graduate from high school, and only 17% will attempt college (National Science Foundation, 2000; Pavel, Swisher, & Ward, 1994). There are many cultural and social reasons for these low rates including reservations located in remote areas, a lack of successful Native American role models, English as a second language, and the low socioeconomic status of many Native Americans (Cajete, 2000).

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In these economic times, meeting the needs of so many diverse student populations can be a challenge. However I believe there are steps a college or university can take to effectively, and efficiently, provide quality services.

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From it's debut online in June 2002 through February 2005, this publication was titled Academic Advising News: Communicating Critical Issues in the Field of Advising. Articles included in these archived editions will be presented in a compiled version as well as broken down into individual articles to facilitate search capacity.  News features from this period may be attained by contacting the Managing Editor.

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This year, I've met with a group of colleagues to discuss Maryellen Weimer's Learner-Centered Teaching. The book has spurred fruitful conversation about teaching. It has also prompted me to consider whether some of its ideas may apply to faculty advising, especially at small colleges....When we consider advising in a learner-centered framework, we discover fruitful and challenging opportunities to involve faculty in advising and to support learners. The Small Colleges and Universities Commission plans to offer several sessions about faculty advising at the 2004 conference in Cincinnati. Hope to see you there! Until then, let conversation continue on the small college and university list-serve.

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One of my favorite questions to ask students is, 'What's going on?' - with the follow up, 'Tell me about it.' This spring, I have had the privilege of asking many NACADA members this same question during round table sessions at several Regional conferences. I have learned that the membership is facing similar challenges and is asking NACADA to help them meet these challenges in similar ways. I'd like to share with you a few of these concerns and how various NACADA programs and services can be of help to you.

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Each year, the NACADA Board of Directors and the Council meet at the site of the upcoming National Conference on Academic Advising. So, March 19 & 20, they met in Cincinnati and discovered a vibrant downtown setting that should please conference goers in October. They tasted Cincinnati barbeque, chili on spaghetti, and some German fare. They discovered an entertainment area across the river in Kentucky and they checked out the hotels that will be hosting the conference attendees. All are excited about their return in October and look forward to another tremendous National Conference!

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To be successful, those responsible for advising students with disabilities must look beyond what would be considered the normal scope and range of advising office responsibilities. This requires flexibility, coordination, and a willingness to step outside prescribed administrative roles.

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I have learned to work with a population who will one day live on the outside. Without education, many will find their way back to prison. With education, many more will lead productive lives and contribute to society, rather than take from it. If you have the opportunity to work with incarcerated students, reserve judgment for later. View your opportunity as an investment in the betterment of society. Most likely it will be an investment that returns more than any Wall Street bull market.

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How can a student reach this point in the program without meeting the basic admission requirements? If we permit students to begin taking education classes, where is the line drawn beyond which the student cannot enroll in additional courses without meeting admission requirements? Do we, as advisors and educators, have a responsibility to help students meet the admission requirements? What approaches have been utilized and how effective are these strategies?

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The election of NACADA leadership positions for terms beginning in October 2004, began on January 9 when the new online voting system was made accessible to all eligible voting NACADA members. Candidates were seeking election to a variety of positions, including NACADA President, Vice President, Board of Directors members, Region Chairs, Commission Chairs, and Committee Chairs. The election process for these positions concluded on February 6 after which all valid votes were tallied. Julia Wolf and Bob Maddula in the Executive Office were responsible for developing and implementing the successful on-line voting system.

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From it's debut online in June 2002 through February 2005, this publication was titled Academic Advising News: Communicating Critical Issues in the Field of Advising. Articles included in these archived editions will be presented in a compiled version as well as broken down into individual articles to facilitate search capacity.  News features from this period may be attained by contacting the Managing Editor.

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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.

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By now, each of you have received a copy of the 2004 NACADA National Conference Brochure in the mail or have reviewed the information on the Association’s web site. I hope you are clearing your calendars and making plans to attend our 28th National Conference where we will celebrate NACADA’s 25th anniversary! Over the past 25 years, NACADA has grown from a young organization with a charter membership of 429 to an association with over 7,800 members, serving critical roles in the development of the profession and the implementation of quality academic advising on our campuses that focus on student learning.

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Happy New Year! Yes, those of us in academe get to celebrate a second time as we begin the new academic year. This is a time of renewal also, as the majority of our memberships renew in September, and our leadership “renews” at the end of the national conference when our newly elected leaders assume their responsibilities and begin their work for the New NACADA Year.

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Advising higher education students is important work and is fast becoming stressful work. Students have higher service expectations while administration applies cost containment pressure: ’do more with less, faster, with higher quality’. Information technology conversions, new releases, and upgrades constantly challenge us to use IT to better to serve students. The positive power of humor can help us avoid stress, stay balanced and ready to have fun designing and building bridges to success for our students.

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Diversity, interdisciplinarity, and professionalism are gauges by which we measure improvement over the last several decades. Part of the improvement is due to faculty and professional advisors who support these changes. The classic relationship between a faculty research supervisor and a master’s, doctoral or professional student is still the essential relationship. Built around that, whether at the large research institution, a small college, or the professional school, those who advise strive to meet the needs of today’s graduate and professional students.

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What makes advising at a rural, isolated community college different is that the advisor does it all. You are the guide, the coach and the cheerleader. You do the placement testing because there is no testing center; you interpret the Strong Interest Inventory and MBTI because there is no career services specialist; you do the orientation program because there is no separate department for that. The whole student services process from recruiting to graduation is in your hands. The job requires good listening and problem-solving skills, organization and communication, and the exercise of good judgment when faced with counseling situations that are beyond your training and expertise. Most importantly, it requires genuine care for students. The advisor is really on the front lines, but the rewards are great. When you see a student achieve his or her goal—which may or may not include graduation—the experience is priceless. 

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It is well known that retention of every student is simply not possible. As academic advisors we understand that, for some students, transferring or stopping-out is a legitimate strategy for attaining long term personal or professional success. Yet, on many campuses, talk of retention focuses on retaining “all” students. As a result, some colleges have developed overly-broad retention strategies that disjoint campus units and ignore the role of identity in the retention of at-risk ethnic and cultural minorities. A more effective alternative is the development of a focused retention framework that utilizes assessment to identify those most at risk for early institutional departure and then seeks to develop culturally relevant programmatic interventions for their success.

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Students who transfer from one institution to another constitute a significant portion of the current college population, and they consume a considerable amount of the time and effort of advisors at both two-year and four-year institutions. While transfer students bring some higher education experience with them, they are new to the (receiving) transfer institution. They are, in a sense, an anomaly in that they are first-year students with some experience in higher education. This article serves as an overview and provides a brief description of the forthcoming NACADA monograph about this important student population.

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From it's debut online in June 2002 through February 2005, this publication was titled Academic Advising News: Communicating Critical Issues in the Field of Advising. Articles included in these archived editions will be presented in a compiled version as well as broken down into individual articles to facilitate search capacity.  News features from this period may be attained by contacting the Managing Editor.

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Critical to a defined and successful university advising program is keen administrative support that is manifest in the articulated expectation of quality advising. Certainly a reward system which includes advising as a priority is appropriate within a university culture which values and supports advising. Further, as administrators, we frequently have deep concerns about retention, when our primary focus should be the quality of advising.

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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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Barbara Walters conducts great interviews. Shaquille O’Neal is a great basketball player. Emeril is a great chef. Everyone wants to be recognized for his/her expertise and it is easy to recognize the talents of these examples. But, how do great advisors and administrators get noticed?

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One of the most innovative and beneficial programs NACADA sponsors is the Assessment and Administrators’ Institutes, held mid-winter for the purpose of congregating administrators to share ideas and programs for the enhancement of our profession. Working in small groups, administrators from all types of educational institutions discuss the nitty-gritty of advising in order to establish positive programs that will be of use in their own unique environments.

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Many institutions struggle to integrate accreditation criteria for assessment with their efforts to improve and enhance programs for their students. In this climate, the interest in and need for assessment of our students’ academic advising experiences has become a major issue on our campuses.

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The Assessment of Advising Interest Group became a commission in part as a consequence of the growing interest in, and awareness of, the importance in assessment of advising. This change coincided with the Commission’s national survey on the status of the assessment of advising. Although the results of this survey are currently being prepared for submission to the NACADA Journal, it might be useful to look at some of the responses to the survey question, “What could the Assessment of Advising Commission/NACADA sponsor to assist your assessment efforts?”

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As I reflect upon my three years as an academic advisor, I realize that I have learned a lot that may help new advisors quickly transition into their advising roles. I hope that new advisors will read carefully and learn from my experiences. I also hope that senior advisors will review this and take a minute to share your wisdom and encourage new advisors.

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From it's debut online in June 2002 through February 2005, this publication was titled Academic Advising News: Communicating Critical Issues in the Field of Advising. Articles included in these archived editions will be presented in a compiled version as well as broken down into individual articles to facilitate search capacity.  News features from this period may be attained by contacting the Managing Editor.

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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.