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Deborah Barber
, Kent State University

From a loose affiliation of advising and student affairs professionals to a dynamic professional organization – how did the Kent Academic Support and Advising Association (KASADA) get there?

In 1989, about 30 professional advisors got together at Kent State University to talk about forming a university-wide organization for those of us who work directly with students. We sought to establish a network that would help facilitate information sharing and provide a mechanism for diminishing the bureaucracy faced by students. There was also a need to provide professional development opportunities and establish a visible presence on campus.

We created a name – KASADA (Kent Academic Support and Advising Association), wrote a mission statement, found volunteers who were willing to organize meetings every other month, and began to gather on a regular basis.

This continued for about twelve years, until we reached stagnation. While much of our meeting time was devoted to sharing individual practices and discussing relevant policies, little was done to facilitate professional growth or help us connect strategically with the institution. As a result, decisions concerning advising-related issues were made without input from professional advisors, a situation that gave KASADA members a growing sense of frustration in a time when the university placed an increased emphasis on academic advising. It was the ideal time to change our organizational model, respond to member interests, and partner in a more dynamic way with the institution.

Several advisors held a day-long retreat in conjunction with some faculty and administrators who were directly involved with academic advising. We discussed where we wanted to go and brainstormed ways we could get there. We moved toward the adoption of a formal organizational structure that included bylaws, dues, elected officers, and key standing committees: Professional Development, Campus Affairs, and Communications. KASADA dues, which are minimal, provide a small treasury that enables us to offer refreshments at some meetings, honoraria, and small gifts to guest speakers. With assistance provided by a NACADA Region 5 start-up grant, we created a web site, rewrote the mission statement, and became aNACADA Allied Member. (See the complete list of NACADA Allied Members athttp://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Membership/allied_members.htm.)

As we worked through the bylaw process, we realized that it made sense to create a standing committee to work on assessment, an effort that keeps us aligned with the university’s strategic planning principles. To encourage more faculty participation, a faculty representative was added to the executive committee; this individual provided a valuable link to the university’s Faculty Professional Development Center.

The dynamic nature of KASADA is the result of the tremendous energy and enthusiasm found in the committee members and the professionally relevant events sponsored by the organization. KASADA sponsors an annual conference that has included:

2003 “ Empowering Students to Become Active, Responsible Learners” (Keynote: Skip Downing)

2004 “Exploring and Embracing Diversity in Higher Education” (Keynote: Bertice Berry )

2005 “Making the Connection: Learning, Teaching, and Advising” (Keynote: Charlie Nutt)

Part of the success of the organization is a direct result of the continuing support provided by the Dean of Undergraduate Studies. The first dean of the unit,Terry Kuhn, created two annual university advising awards: one awarded for the outstanding professional advisor and the other presented to the outstanding faculty advisor. We are proud to say that many of these recipients have gone on to win national NACADA awards. We also enjoy support from the Provost and President of Kent State University and can brag that our president,Carol Cartwright, was last year’s winner of the NACADA Pacesetter Award. The current Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Gary Padak, serves as the university administration liaison to KASADA.

Another annual event is the Fall Advising Forum, co-sponsored by Undergraduate Studies. This is an opportunity for members to share their research and conference presentations. This event is held after the NACADA National Conference, so members can share ideas gleaned from the conference.

KASADA meets monthly. In-service topics have included “Multicultural Counseling Competencies,” “Career Exploration and Identity Development,” “Exploring Approaches to Ethical Issues in Advising,” and “Millennial Student Characteristics and Implications for Advising.” Additional program topics have included: FERPA, learning communities and freshman interest groups, athletic eligibility, the Ohio Transfer Module, and changes in financial aid progress calculations. Meetings typically end with a “hot topic” discussion that is determined from suggestions submitted at the beginning of the meeting.

KASADA delivers the Faculty Advising Workshop Series, a five-meeting training program, which extends throughout the academic year; the Series is underwritten by Undergraduate Studies with a grant from the Provost. Additionally, the annual campus update allows each Kent Campus academic unit to present new policies and curriculum changes to members from all eight campuses. One regular KASADA membership meeting is held at a regional campus location each year.

Recently, KASADA completed the online advising handbook, a major undertaking which has been a two year project. The handbook provides a ready and current reference for faculty and professional advisors and is linked from the KASADA web site.

It is important to acknowledge that members’ professional participation has grown from the local association. KASADA members hold positions with OHAAA, the state organization, with NACADA Region 5, and at the national level in NACADA. Typically 20-30 KASADA members attend, and many present, at the NACADA National Conference.

Can this success story be replicated at other institutions? We think so. Move slowly and deliberately and be prepared for periods of stagnation. Have faith that people will come forward to pick up the ball. Begin by finding a core group of interested individuals. Determine your group’s goals and mission; craft a functional association structure that meets your objectives. Be inclusive not only of professional advisors, but also faculty and interested administrators. To the extent possible, partner with your institution; this sets the stage for an enduring and rewarding relationship.

Please visit our website at http://dept.kent.edu/kasada/kasada.asp for contacts and additional information.

Deborah Barber
Kent State University
dbarber@kent.edu

Cite this article using APA style as: Barber, D. (2005, September). Creating a campus-based advising organization: The KASADA experience. Academic Advising Today, 28(3). Retrieved from [insert url here]

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