Questioning #AcAdv Values: A Global Perspective at the Regional Level

At the welcome on April 7th, 2016 at the NACADA Region V Conference in Toronto, I had the good fortune to participate in the official opening.  As I told those who attended, it was indeed one of my favorite events given the intimacy of the conference as well as the cross-cultural perspective inherent in a region that transcends geographical boundaries. True to form, the dialogue overheard throughout the three days did not disappoint. Academic advisors, personal tutors, administrators and faculty alike reflected on NACADA’s core values, as well as theory and practice, really getting to the center of what it means to be an “academic advisor” regardless of historical or cultural context. Through these conversations, three major themes seemed to appear: inclusivity, integrity, and a deep passion to impact student success in a holistic way.

In relation to inclusivity, attendees wanted a place and a statement that encouraged all aspects of “advisor” identity to be considered in decisions we make as an organization from gender to race and ethnicity; language to vocabulary; and from one higher educational history and context to another. It became clear that those of us in the United States are the forebears to other countries and this may be a space where we take our own history with academic advising for granted at times when we discuss the field. What might looking at the stages of advising in other locations offer the field? How are these practices evolving differently? How might NACADA better address these needs? How are researchers examining these unique contexts?

IMG_0892Secondly, integrity was noted – not only in discussions around advisor responsibility and personal integrity, but the integrity of our institutions as well. As advisors, we walk a delicate line of doing what is right by the students and what is right by our institutions sometimes. What happens when what is best for our students conflicts with the interests of our organizations? How do we best balance these competing needs as advisors? Can we make a statement for our profession that helps us reinforce this is who we are and what we do when that integrity is called into question?

Finally, methods for working holistically with our students and colleagues in ways that attended to cultural difference and recognized that “success” may not be the same for every culture or every student emerged. For one student, success might mean completing their degree, but to another, it may mean gaining a particular skill in a course. How do we, as an advising community, prevent biased notions of “success” from clouding the student’s vision? How do we expand to other approaches and grab for a tool from our toolkit to best meet their needs? How can we lean on other disciplines to inform our own practice?

I do not pretend to have the answers to the questions I have just posed related to inclusivity, integrity or student success – yet. However, I do sincerely invite you to continue your engagement in the broader discussions of our field through the core values, as well as through conducting your own research, just as the Region V participants did in a global way. Engage in deep conversations on your campuses. Help to answer some of the big questions that surround our work and know that NACADA is sincere in it’s wanting to hear from membership. Truly, academic advising is expanding globally and as new voices become engaged in the conversation, I can only imagine and hope for what the future of the field may hold.
Shannon Lynn Burton, Ph.D.
Associate University Ombudsperson / Research Integrity Coordinator
Michigan State University

Shannon Lynn Burton, PhD, is the Associate University Ombudsperson at Michigan State University, as well as the Research Integrity Coordinator. In these roles she has sought out ways to build a culture of academic integrity by restructuring and institutionalizing the Academic Integrity Consortium, which she directs, as well as by engaging faculty, staff and students in other venues to address this issue at a grassroots level. Shannon seeks to give voice to issues on campus including those affecting student rights and responsibilities, as Shannon8979WEBwell as student success. Her accomplishment in these endeavors is evidenced by her receipt of a 2010 Outstanding Academic Advisor Award and 2011 Outstanding Dissertation Award by NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising (NACADA), as well as the 2013 Distinguished Civilian Michigan State University ROTC Service Award and MSU’s 2014 Student Veteran Supporter of the Year. Her research interests include ombuds practice, academic advising, academic integrity, ethics and legal issues, and organizational culture.

Shannon serves the broader professional community through her work on the International Ombudsman Association’s (IOA) Title IX Task Force, as one of the inaugural co-chairs for the Research and Assessment Committee for IOA and as Associate Editor for the Journal of the IOA. Additionally, Shannon is Michigan State University’s lead representative to the International Center for Academic Integrity. Finally, Shannon continues to serve in leadership roles for NACADA: the Global Community for Academic Advising (NACADA) as she has since 2006. Currently, she serves as a member of the Board of Directors and as a reviewer for the NACADA Journal, as well as a consultant for NACADA’s Consultants and Speakers Bureau.

Shannon can be reached via or on Twitter @msuburton

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Supporting Students with Technology: Academic Advising Perceptions and Practices in Higher Ed

Whether it is campus change or technological necessity, we need a way to encourage advising programs to consider technology for both content and service delivery for learner-centered advising approaches. By researching technological trends and challenges, conducting campus-wide assessments, and establishing strategic plans, higher education stakeholders can integrate technology into student support practices.

To understand the impact technology has on student support and advising practice The Global Community for Academic Advising (NACADA) association, specifically the NACADA Technology in Advising Commission sponsors surveys for the NACADA membership (e.g. 2002, 2007, and 2011). In 2013 a survey was designed to understand the perspectives of how technology in being used in higher education advising practices. A total of 990 respondents completed the survey with 65% identified as an academic advisor/counselor, 22% as advising administrators, and 4% as faculty.

Key findings from this study:

  • Top 3 advising technologies: desktop computers, campus storage networks, & Wi-Fi
  • Technology tools/platforms the institution wants advisors to use: learning management systems (46%) and laptops (40%)
  • Technology tools/platforms utilized by advisors: 24% use scanners and 23% use social networks (e.g. Twitter and Facebook).
  • Advisors communicate with technology (daily) primarily with: other academic advisors/counselors (86.35%) and students (89.88%).
  • Advisors less frequently use technology to communicate with: academic administrators (58.08%), faculty (47.22%), & student affairs administrators (37%).
  • Daily advising practices include: e-mail (99%); face-to-face interactions (91%); locally installed word processor, spreadsheets, etc. (80%); phone (73%) and Facebook (30%).
  • Less frequently used advising technology (< 2%): licensed video-conferencing (e.g. Adobe Connect, Wimba, Zoom), retention software, photo-sharing websites, and podcasts.

When asked what their “ideal technology in advising practice” to support students and advising functions, respondents wanted advising technology to:

  • Be integrated into current systems and existing campus technologies.
  • Create opportunity and access for student support and advising regardless of physical location, time, etc.
  • Help build an advising rapport, make connections, and support communication.
  • Support transparent knowledge sharing and degree completion information.
  • Scaffold effective online and blended models of academic advising.
  • Address the needs and challenges related to advisor and learner preferences and/or practices for student support/services.
  • Capture the holistic view of the student learning experience, which is essential to enhance academic advising practices and institutional outcomes.

Campus decisions about learning technologies need to include delivery that is inclusive of advising and not just the classroom. From this research, it there is both a need and desire to improve front-line advising and student support practices in higher education. In the efforts to expand upon this research and distribute this knowledge the survey instrument, data, and white paper (also shared on the NACADA #AdvTech Commission Resource Page as a PDF) from this study are shared by the researchers with a Creative Commons license.


Pasquini, Laura A.; Steele, George (2016): Technology in academic advising: Perceptions and practices in higher education. figshare. Retrieved from


Laura Pasquini, Ph.D.
University of North Texas






George Steele, Ph.D.
Ohio State University


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The Beauty of Reno and the Benefits of a Summer Institute

Welcome to the most mountainous state in the Union!  My name is Blane Harding and I am the Director of the Center for Student Cultural Diversity at the University of Nevada Reno and I am also a faculty member for the NACADA Summer Institute held at Reno’s Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in June 2016.  I started my position at the University in June 2015 and it was one of the best professional and personal decisions I have made.  Prior to applying at the University of Nevada Reno I had never envisioned myself living in Nevada let alone Reno!  Boy things have changed since then.  Reno is a city that has a plethora of arts, culture, museums, casinos, walking trails, tourist activities, and the Truckee River runs down the center of town and offers a variety of river activities and exceptional Reno Blog 1outdoor restaurants to enjoy the beautiful weather and downtown nightlife.

When I began everyone told me that all the activities were only a fifteen minute drive away and after being here for a year they were not lying.  The Atlantis where the NACADA 2016 Summer Institute is being held has 8 magnificent restaurants, an award winning spa, a children’s center, and is only a five minute walk from the Reno Town Mall and rooms in the NACADA Room block start at $79 plus resort fee! There is also a free shuttle service for the 10 minute drive from the airport to the Atlantis!  You would never have to leave the Atlantis to enjoy the pleasures and relaxing environment of Reno but given the other exceptional activities you just might want to venture out and experience all Reno has to offer.  One of my favorites is the National Automobile Museum located in the Harrah Hotel.  Even if you are not a car enthusiast this is an exceptional collection of automobile history, complete with some of the finest cars in the world and period items and clothing.  Automobiles owned Reno Blog 2and driven by Elvis Presley, James Dean, Frank Sinatra, and Sammy Davis Jr. as well as vintage race cars and fire engines.

For the sports enthusiasts the Reno Aces are a AAA team that plays in one of the finest AAA ballparks in the country and Lake Tahoe is only a short 45 minute drive up Mt. Rose and a must see for anyone visiting the area.  The Nevada Museum of Art is a short cab ride from the Atlantis and displays the history of this beautiful state as well as offering various tours.

If all of this does not entice you to visit Reno the benefits of being a participant in the Summer Institute should.  This will be my 13th time having the honor to serve as a faculty member for the Institute and each time I do I walk away with increased knowledge concerning my profession, a greater appreciation for my colleagues across the country, and energy to know what we do can and does make a difference.  As a participant you will have access to the best faculty NACADA can provide which includes former NACADA Presidents, former Chairs of the Summer Institute, Directors of very successful advising centers, as well as the unlimited experience of the other participants.  You will hear about what works and has been effective on other campuses that you can bring to your own campus, build lasting relationships with those in attendance and particularly Reno Blog 3with those in your Work groups that meet on a daily basis throughout the experience. You will have the opportunity to work on and gain feedback on an Action Plan that you can bring back to your campus to make changes and improve the services you provide your students.  I am still in contact with and continue to learn from the individuals I met at my first Summer Institute in 2006!

I strongly encourage you as an individual to attend the absolute best training an advisor can receive or bring a team from your institution to work on a plan to help reach our ultimate goal of graduating students!


Blane A. Harding
Summer Institute Planning Committee

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A note from NACADA Executive Director Dr. Charlie Nutt regarding FLSA

Dear Colleagues,

As many of you know, higher education institutions across the US are all scrambling to develop strategies to deal with the proposed changes to the Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act. One possible change would revise the white-collar overtime exemption regulations for employees who make below a minimum annual salary of $50, 440. Should this salary level go into effect it would be a major change for all employees below this figure; those employees would most likely be considered hourly and earn overtime for any work done outside the 40-hour work week.

Academic advisors are an important group of employees at colleges and universities. Because the proposed changes to the Act would affect all institutional employees, every campus is working to determine how to deal with the proposed changes. Changes to the Act could be approved as soon as May 16.

NACADA has two key roles in working with our membership on this issue. First, we want to provide our members with the latest information on the Act as well as information on how other groups propose to handle the possible changes. This information will be vital as institutions begin to develop plans for implementation on their campuses.  Therefore, we have created a Clearinghouse resources page for information related to this issue and will add links as they become available. The link to the page is We encourage each of you to review the information and suggest additional resources you feel will benefit our membership; please feel free to send those suggested links to for consideration.

The other key issue is that regardless of how the Department of Labor ultimately defines eligibility for overtime pay and/or mandates its implementation, NACADA will continue to focus on the role of advisors as professionals who are essential, not just to the teaching and learning mission of our colleges and universities, but to the academic, career, and personal successes of our students. Academic advisors are not administrative staff who focus only on the informational course selection process for students. NACADA is presently defining the essential competencies for academic advisors and revisiting the NACADA Core Values. The association clearly defines academic advisors’ roles as educational in nature and focused on the whole student; thus requiring not only informational skills, but also relational and conceptual skills.

Therefore, regardless of how the potential FLSA changes affect your campus or you, please feel free to turn to NACADA for the support you may need on your campus and in your personal and professional dealings regarding this matter.

Charlie Nutt
NACADA Executive Director

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The Joyce C. Jackson Service Award: An Award for the Soul

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the NACADA Region 4 conference in Orlando. Like so many others, I attend NACADA conferences to learn about the advances in our profession, present work that my team and I are doing, and network and reunite with friends and colleagues. This year was special though, because I also happened to be the recipient of the Joyce C. Jackson Service Award, one of six awards offered in our region. Needless to say, I was excited! This, despite the fact that I learned of the award months earlier, which is actually where my story really begins.

In November 2015, I unexpectedly found myself care-giving 24/7 for my mom, Pilar, through what would become her last weeks of life. To maintain some semblance of normality during this difficult time, I continued to work remotely when I could. Work was therapy and I was grateful for it! Truth be told, though, I had never been “away” from work for such a long and uninterrupted period of time—nearly two months. It felt like a lifetime, and eventually, I began feeling very disconnected from everyone and everything. Don’t get me wrong, I was exactly where I wanted and needed to be, but that logic offered little comfort. I felt what I felt.

One day, during one my “work breaks,” I was going through my emails, which went something like this: read, respond, next; read, delete, next…then, an outlier. A nicely composed, formal email about an award. At first, I thought I Joyce C. Jackson Service Awardwas being asked to write a letter of recommendation. I remember composing a denial letter in my mind almost immediately. I thought, where would I find the time and energy to write a good one right now? I took a moment though, and I decided to read the email again, slowly and carefully. “Congratulations on being selected as the 2016 Joyce C. Jackson Service Award Winner.” Wait a minute, I actually won this!


I immediately searched the NACADA website: Who was/is Joyce C. Jackson? How did she serve NACADA? How exactly did her work and mine connect? Then I wondered: Who nominated me? Who took the time to write letters? Who believed I was worthy? I was moved and humbled, and just like that—through one simple gesture—I felt connected; I felt my advising community.

A few weeks later while greeting guests at my mom’s funeral, I found myself facing a group of people who I did not recognize, but who seemed to recognize me immediately. Who are these strangers? Well, it turns out these were no strangers. They were my mom’s former co-workers—all in tears, all seeking comfort. They spoke of her work ethic, her willingness to help with any task, her genuine care for her colleagues, and her unwavering stamina. Under normal circumstances, this would be incredibly touching but, here’s the thing, my mom had actually retired 13 years earlier at the age of 75. Think about that for a minute—13 years, and here they were, her community, saying thank you and goodbye.

Receiving the Joyce C. Jackson Service Award was much more than a recognition of my commitment and service to advising, in honor of an admired and passionate NACADA leader. It was also an invaluable reminder of how my mom’s own genuine love of her job and colleagues, had impacted me. So, the next time a call for NACADA awards comes to your email, take the time and care to nominate someone. You just don’t know how meaningful that gesture will be for someone. Cheers! JV.


Janie Valdés
Florida International University
Assistant Vice President
Undergraduate Education

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First Impressions

Dr. Wes Habley’s keynote address at NACADA’s Region 9 Conference offered engaging insights into both the history of NACADA and the practice of academic advising.  I’m new to both advising and to NACADA, so attending the Region 9 Conference was a real learning experience for me.   “Attrition” and “relationship” were two key terms from Dr. Habley’s presentation that caught my attention.  I believe that an awareness of these concepts will help me be a more effective academic advisor.

Prior to attending the Region 9 Conference, my understanding of “attrition” had to do with math; it’s a numbers game, right?  We keep track of students who stay, and we record the number that go. We try to grow the active student pool and reduce our levels of attrition.  However, Dr. Habley’s definition of attrition was “the process or state of being gradually worn down.”  Aha.  This explains a lot, doesn’t it?  Few students pack up and leave because of one event.  More often, they are “gradually worn down” and exit higher education only after they feel that they have failed or have grown tired of the academic (or bureaucratic) struggle to succeed.

What will keep these students active?  Positive  relationships.

Since academic advisors are the primary point of contact with the student, it is essential for us to build a strong relationship with each student.  From my own undergraduate experience at a large public institution of higher learning, I understand Dr. Habley’s points from the student’s perspective.  An institution is a nameless, faceless entity until a connection is made between the student and a representative of the university or college.  This is real challenge, but creatively meeting this need for relationships will make a real difference.

Helping academic advisors realize their key role in establishing these positive relationships is the key to success for both students and the colleges or universities they attend.

Katherine Carlman
Academic Advisor
University of La Verne

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Bags packed?

Well it’s only a matter of days till the NACADA Conference kicks off in Dubai, UAE next week. Everyone at Zayed University is looking forward to welcoming you all to the conference. This conference program will offer many interesting presentations over the course of the week and of course will be an ideal networking environment.

On the opening day of the conference you mustn’t forget our cultural night festival that will be held soon after the first day of the conference draws to a close. This event, which has been organized by our student peer tutors (PALs), is set to take place on the campus courtyard from 17:30 and will conclude at 19:30. For those of you unaccustomed to Arabic or in particular Emirati culture, this is a must see at this conference with many traditional activities on show. In addition, during the conference look out for our student peer tutors (PALs), who will be wearing green sashes, as they will be more than happy to assist you with any conference related matters.

As this is our final blog posting for this conference, we would like to wish you all a safe onward travel to Dubai over the next few days.

Finally, if you require assistance during your stay at the conference in Dubai please contact any of these numbers:

Ambulance:             999

Taxi Service:             + 971 (0) 4 208 0000
Careem Taxi:            + 971 (0) 4 440 5222

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