Anna Lincoln, Wesley R. Habley NACADA Summer Institute Scholarship Recipient
The NACADA Summer Institute has been the most valuable and beneficial professional development experience I have had so far in my career. Being new to the field of academic advising, I have really embraced the connections, knowledge, and opportunities provided to me by NACADA. I attended the 2015 NACADA Annual Conference in Las Vegas, and I joined the Region 9 Peer Engagement Program. Having enjoyed both experiences, I was looking forward to my next professional development opportunity with NACADA. I am fortunate to work with colleagues who had attended past NACADA Summer Institutes, including Blane Harding, who was a faculty member for this year’s institute. Blane presented the institute as a unique and rigorous training opportunity, which peaked my interest and excitement. The honor of being awarded the Wesley R. Habley Scholarship made attending the NACADA Summer Institute possible, and I am forever grateful for the experience.
The main objective of the Summer Institute was to create an action plan to be implemented upon my return to campus. This opportunity could not have come at a better time. My campus was rolling out a new advising software to aid in retention, and I was selected to train our faculty. I welcomed time away from my office to focus on an action plan for this new project. I attended the institute with four colleagues from my advising team. On the first day, we were organized into a workgroup with other advisors from our university and advisors from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and New York University Shanghai. I enjoyed being able to network and collaborate with advisors I never would have met if NACADA had not brought us together. I was also fortunate to work under the mentorship and guidance of my group leader, Jayne Drake. Jayne has vast experience in Liberal Arts advising being the Vice Dean for Academic and Student Affairs and Associate Professor of English Emeritus at the College of Liberal Arts at Temple University. It was an honor to share ideas with such an expert and receive her feedback. Jayne has a humor about her that makes working with her just as much fun as it is productive. She gave out her cell phone number on the very first day and insisted that anyone could contact her at any time to discuss their action plans. I could tell that she genuinely enjoyed leading her group and that she wanted to see everyone succeed.
I was so impressed by the amount of thought and effort that NACADA put into organizing the Summer Institute. Each day consisted of foundational, workshop, and topical sessions that I could attend as well as time in my work group to collaborate with my team and work on our action plan. While Jayne was our group leader and most of my faculty interaction was with her, NACADA did a great job of providing participants time with other expert faculty. Each group was allowed to sign up for a 30 minute consultation session with a different faculty member. My group chose to work with Jo Anne Huber who spent 28 years as the Academic Advising Coordinator in the College of Liberal Arts at The University of Texas at Austin. Jo Anne helped us work through the challenge of how to motivate Liberal Arts students to take math and she affirmed that our action plan was on the right track. It was unbelievable how quickly the 30 minutes flew by. The session with Jo Anne left me confident about our plan and excited to move forward.
Foundational sessions started off the first three days of the summer institute and provided more opportunity to learn from expert faculty. Charlie Nutt, the Executive Director of NACADA, gave a session titled Handling Change: Leading from Your Position. This was the first time I witnessed Charlie speak, and he was completely inspiring. Charlie’s motivational words made me feel like I could change the world through academic advising. This was the perfect session to launch the summer institute.
Another foundational session I attended was Assessment of Academic Advising: An Overview given by Rich Robbins, the Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences at Bucknell University. I appreciated this session because I believe there is a need for research and assessment in academic advising, but it can seem like a daunting task for which finding time is difficult. Rich’s presentation helped me figure out that research and assessment can easily be incorporated into the retention efforts we are already doing and more importantly become a necessary piece of my team’s action plan. Later on in the institute, I was able to further my learning by attending Rich’s Making Decisions with Data topical session and Blane Harding’s Research in Advising; Just Do It. This is why the summer institute is so much more than a traditional conference. At traditional conferences, participants acquire best practices and helpful information about a variety of topics to act upon once they return to campus. At the Summer Institute, the foundational, workshop, and topical sessions all built upon each other and provided me with information I could utilize immediately in our action plan, making them an incredibly productive use of my time. And for the sessions I could not attend, NACADA provided a guide with every PowerPoint presentation and a resource section consisting of example action plans, CAS standards, and other helpful information.
In addition to all of the rigorous work and learning, the Summer Institute provided many opportunities to socialize and have fun with other participants. There was a dinner and mixer on the first night and a networking reception later in the week. Breakfast and lunch was served on each full day of the institute with beverage breaks in the afternoons. The meals were a welcomed break from work group sessions spent creating our action plan and a great time to meet other advisors who were not in my work group. I found myself sitting with different participants each meal and learning more about other institutions. We were well taken care of and well fed at the summer institute.
The NACADA Summer Institute provided me with a rare opportunity to step away from my desk and focus on an action plan that our team could take back to our campus. The sessions I attended gave me new ideas but also affirmed the hard work I have put in so far. The experience was a perfect blend of hard work and productivity with networking and socialization. I accomplished a lot, I learned a lot, and I had fun. And the experience has not ended. Jayne already emailed my team to check in and see how the implementation of our action plan is going. I appreciate the support and the gentle reminder to not lose focus. I am looking forward to catching up with Jayne at the next NACADA conference and continuing to work with her throughout my career. I am so thankful for the Wesley R. Habley Scholarship for making this wonderful experience a reality. I recommend the NACADA Summer Institute to any advisor who wants to learn, create something positive for their campus and students, and have fun meeting and collaborating with advisors from around the world.
College of Liberal Arts
University of Nevada Reno
Cite this article using APA style as: Lincoln. A. (2016, December). NACADA Summer Institute: A new advising professional’s perspective. Academic Advising Today, 39(4). Retrieved from [insert url here]