This article by Patrice Scott, communications coordinator for the K-State College of Education, originally appeared in Connections magazine. It is reprinted with permission by the K-State College of Education.
Following is a candid conversation with Charlie Nutt, executive director of the National Academic Advising Association, or NACADA. Nutt joined NACADA in 2002 and has served as executive director since 2007.
Q. How would you describe NACADA?
A. NACADA promotes and supports quality academic advising in institutions of higher education to enhance the educational development of students. The association provides a forum for discussion, debate and the exchange of ideas pertaining to academic advising through numerous activities and publications. It also serves as an advocate for effective academic advising by providing a consulting and speaker service and funding for research related to academic advising.
Q. How big is NACADA?
A. The association comprises more than 12,000 members worldwide, including professional advisors, counselors, faculty, administrators and students. I like to say we are a 12,000-person campus being run by 18 professionals and a few graduate and undergraduate students. If NACADA were an institution of higher learning in Kansas, it would be ranked as the fifth largest Regents institution and the second largest community college.
Q. What do you wish the world knew about NACADA?
A. I want the world to know that NACADA is committed to providing the highest quality professional development resources and events. But I also want the world to know that NACADA and our board of directors are strongly committed to expanding our global commission, providing a forum and outlet to conduct research in the field of academic advising and student success, and communicating the results of that research.
Q. Why do you believe NACADA is growing?
A. There are four main reasons we are experiencing significant growth:
- NACADA is focused on the highest quality professional development, events and service to our members.
- Globally, institutions are focused on student success and completion more than ever, and with the demonstrated connection between academic advising and student success, our membership has grown accordingly.
- Members tell us NACADA is one of the few educational associations where members are actively involved with the association’s work, and they appreciate the clear focus on networking, sharing, learning and inclusion at all levels.
- Our executive office staff is truly the best of all higher education associations and provides the highest quality personalized service to each member.
Q. How is academic advising critical to student success?
A. Academic advising is drastically more than just schedule building and registration. It is about the whole student and about teaching students to be self-reliant and responsible for their educations. Many professional academic advisors, as well as faculty advisors, have little to no training in student development, growth, learning patterns or in how to develop a relationship with students. In addition, it is essential that academic advisors understand the importance of assessment of academic advising and how to build a plan for such assessment.
Q. When and why did NACADA decide to go global?
A. While attending a conference in the U.K. in 2005 on “personal tutoring” (the U.K.’s term for academic advising), I clearly saw that no matter the location, academic advisors face the same issues relative to student success. At that point the NACADA board of directors began discussing the importance of a globally inclusive focus and how we could move in that direction. One of the first ways was to change our tagline to “NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising.” We co-hosted two international conferences in the U.K. — in Edinburgh and in Liverpool. This June, NACADA itself hosted an international conference at the University College of Maastricht University in the Netherlands. We had more than 250 participants from 19 countries and five continents.
Q. What does the future hold for NACADA?
A. We plan to continue our global expansion, support of technology for members, focus on high quality in all we do, and focus on research and publication in the field.