Charlie Nutt, NACADA Executive Director
As completion and persistence to graduation is an agenda item of major importance at all colleges and universities globally, the age-old argument of “lowering standards” or “focus on completion minimizes student learning and growth developmentally” has become louder and more polarizing than ever. I am proud that NACADA has worked diligently in the past year to bring focus to the “completion agenda” issue through two webinars and our recent National Seminar on College Completion. We have built partnerships with groups such as the John N. Gardner Institute, College Complete America, USA Fund, the Lumina Foundation, and the Gates Foundation as well as bringing high-level administrators from colleges and universities into our conversations.
Through these conversations, NACADA has clearly set forth our very strong view, as indicated through our association’s vision, mission, and strategic goals, that completing or persistence to graduation must clearly be tied to increased student learning. This goal requires the highest quality academic advising experience for all students at all levels.
Many institutions are working diligently:
- To increase the use of technology to more easily, effectively, and correctly track student progress to graduation;
- To create new policies, procedures and support to assist students in choosing a major and graduating in a timely manner;
- To restructure academic advising offices to provide the highest quality customer service, registration support, and academic advising experiences; and
- To strengthen all partnerships across the institutions to clearly demonstrate that student completion and persistence is an institution-wide responsibility.
These initiatives all work together not only to define the importance of completion and persistence, but also to demonstrate that student learning is the primary purpose of a college degree.
Therefore, it is imperative that NACADA members become vocal advocates on our campuses in consistently emphasizing student learning at all levels while at the same time become intimately involved with the college completion initiatives on our campuses. We can no longer sit back and be spectators in the campus conversations about increased student learning; or if we do, we run the risk of being labeled as merely registration and scheduling support or degree auditors for graduation plans. It is our responsibility to clearly connect academic advising to the academic mission of a campus. To do so we must develop our curriculums, student learning outcomes, and assessment strategies for measuring these outcomes. It is only through these steps that academic advisors, whether advising be our primary role or whether we are faculty with advising responsibilities, will be recognized for what we do each day to teach our students the skills, behaviors, and attitudes necessary for successful college completion.
I challenge all of us to take our place at the table when important decisions are being made concerning what our institutions must do to increase and enhance student learning and thus increase student completion. I challenge us to demonstrate at our institutions across the world, whether we are at two-year colleges, private colleges and universities or large public research universities, that academic advising is not a service and academic advisors are not service providers. We must define ourselves as educators and not rely on others at our institutions to finally see the importance of what we do.
As we attend NACADA regional conferences, institutes, international conferences, and our annual conference, we must make it our goal to network with our colleagues across the globe and to learn from each other new structures, strategies, activities, and connections that we will take back to our institutions. As we participate in NACADA webinars, we must invite our campus communities to join us and to have powerful conversations about how we work together for increased student learning. We must share across our campuses NACADA publications and the research being conducted to bring academic advising out of the shadows and into the light of teaching and learning. And we, finally, must become scholars in our field by conducting our own research and sharing this research through both presenting at events and writing for the various NACADA publications.
As always, I know that your involvement in NACADA is inspiring significant and important changes in higher education across the world and is inspiring our students to learn at the highest level possible. On behalf of our students, thank you for all you do!
Charlie Nutt, Executive Director
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising
Cite this article using APA style as: Nutt, C. (2015, March). From the executive director: College complete equals high student learning equals high quality academics. Academic Advising Today, 38(1). Retrieved from [insert url here]