Advising Awards

Dr. Alberto Gonzàlez, vice provost for academic services (front), and Distinguished Faculty Advisers (left to right) Dr. Kenneth Crocker, Dr. Todd Waggoner, Dr. Mark Earley, Tracy McGinley and Dr. Robert Harr respond to a comment from an audience member at the March 1 forum.


Advising award winners share 'best practices'

The winners of the second annual Distinguished Adviser Awards shared their “best practices” with a campuswide audience March 1.

Hosted by Dr. Alberto Gonzàlez, vice provost for academic services, and sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the awards were given in recognition of advising that is:
•  an integral part of the educational and academic process
•  accurate, consistent, timely and accessible
•  a shared responsibility between the University and the student, and
•  developmental—helping students learn to help themselves.

Nominations were made by the colleges. Each recipient received $300 and an engraved plaque.

Honored were:
•  Dr. Julie Barnes, computer science, who is also the Arts and Sciences representative to the Advising Network. “For the past several years, Barnes has contributed significantly to advising during orientation and registration, where she advises first-year students and transfer students, not only in computer science but in a variety of majors,” Gonzàlez said. The college reports receiving many compliments on her work from students and parents.

•  Dr. Kenneth Crocker, marketing, who is a “favorite professor and adviser among students and is well respected by members of the (business) college staff,” Gonzàlez said. He makes students feel comfortable by being friendly and helpful and always willing to listen. It is this act of listening, Crocker said in the forum portion of the event, that is his key to successful advising because it helps identify the real need and the real problem, if there is one. “Also, be responsible, be reliable,” he added.

•  Dr. Mark Earley, educational foundations and inquiry. “Mark believes that advising is part of the process of being an educator and therefore an integral part of his role as a faculty member at BGSU,” Gonzàlez said. Earley has learned about other majors in the education college in order to provide the most comprehensive services to students, and has been a great asset in assisting with advising events and programs. Earley said maintaining communication with students is his best tool to establish a rapport with them. “They really just like to hear from me,” he said. He sends his advisees a “welcome back” email as well as short notes to stay in touch.

•  Dr. Robert Harr, chair of public health and allied professions and director of the Health Science Residential Community. He is known for being extremely knowledgeable about his field and for being willing to put aside immediate tasks to meet with students, Gonzàlez said. Harr has secured resources such as tutoring in the learning community and often finds internships for students in applied microbiology. “I look at my job as motivational,” Harr said. “I want to get students to do their best and find out why if they’re not. I try to keep them on track. I supply information but also a future view.”

•  Tracy McGinley, criminal justice/sociology at BGSU Firelands, who took on the advising job of another faculty member who was on faculty improvement leave and has found she enjoys it and intends to continue. McGinley said one of the most important services she provides to her advisees is to show them what can be done with their degree. She said the small community at Firelands creates a more intimate atmosphere in which she tries to be as available to students as possible, which once led to signing a form for a student she met at the grocery store.

•  Dr. Todd Waggoner, manufacturing technology systems, who makes a point of helping students carry through to graduation and responds intensively when a student need is identified, Gonzàlez said. Waggoner noted he builds rapport with students by handling some of their smaller needs—such as signing necessary forms—quickly and efficiently, saving his time and theirs for more in-depth conversations.

Increasing contact
Waggoner, who joined the other honorees in a panel discussion, said he tells students, “I take it personally that I want to see you graduate.” He has implemented an outreach program to determine what courses students need to finish up their degree and contacts them by email about what courses are available. “I was surprised at the response. They’re doing it,” he said of the many nontraditional students in his program who are already working and may not realize how close they are to completing their degree.

Earley said he has had a positive response to something he’s tried as well. He tracks students who are on probation or warning and contacts them early to get them back on track.

Similarly, Harr told of emailing his learning community advisees about their midterm grades. He was apprehensive that they might view that as intrusive but found that they appreciated it, he said.

Gonzàlez noted that higher education literature shows that “students are comforted by hovering, almost surveillance, behavior that they may have been used to from their parents.”

The toughest cases
The consensus among the panelists and audience members as well was that freshmen—who are least informed—and transfer students are the most needy and take the most time to advise.

“The transfer students pose the biggest problem,” Harr said. “They register last and you have to carefully evaluate their credits. You don’t want them to leave the advising session before everything is settled, and you really don’t want them taking classes they don’t need.”

The University is enrolling more transfer students than ever, the group said.

Some new efforts, such as designated freshman advisers in the College of Education and Human Development, mandatory freshman advising and group advising sessions for general needs, have been proving successful, the panel heard. A survey will be conducted of this year’s and next year’s sophomores to determine how effective the mandatory advising program has been, said Lisa Cesarini, director of academic enhancement.
March 13, 2006