Honors Program advisors Dawn Shores (left), assistant director, and Jodi Devine, associate director of academic affairs, accept the President’s Award for Academic Advising of Undergraduate Students from Interim President Carol Cartwright.
Honors advising recognized for individualized support
In recognition of its excellence and efforts to improve and update its approach, the University Honors Program was presented the President’s Award for Academic Advising of Undergraduate Students.
The award was given at the Oct. 28 Faculty Awards Dinner. With the award came $3,575 for the program to employ two students to create a database and student-tracking process.
According to the review committee, the program has been reconceptualized as a “learning-centered process” that fosters independence and accountability in students.
Two and a half years ago, the Honors Program changed its philosophy to one in which “advisors strive to challenge and support students to become independent community citizens who are able to take responsibility for achieving lifelong educational, personal and career goals.” The program has embraced the idea that “effective advising fosters critical thinking and informed decision making that supports meaningful living in a global society.”
Honors advising staff provide students the opportunity to build an individual relationship with an advisor who specializes in understanding their unique academic and career needs and who will work collaboratively with their college or faculty advisor. A centerpiece of the relationship is a set of “clear, rigorous and achievable expectations for entering Honors students.”
The success of the new approach was borne out in the many students’ letters of support for the program. Sarah Stephenson, an education major, said her first advising appointment, with the Honors Program, “was likely the most difficult advising appointment I have ever had.” The schedule of students in her discipline is strictly planned from semester to semester and year to year, she said, but “that did not stop me from wanting to incorporate a minor in Latin,” feeling that it would be a good supplement to her studies in language arts and literature.
Her Honors advisor worked long and closely with her to develop a schedule that would make the Latin minor possible, Stephenson said. Now that she has completed it, “this minor has helped me in ways I never could have imagined possible throughout my studies of language arts education. Without the assistance and confidence of Honors Program advising, I sincerely do not believe that this goal would have been made possible.”
Likewise, senior Robin Valpey said Jodi Devine, her Honors advisor, helped her find classes that combined her varied academic interests (a double major in biology and psychology and double minor in chemistry and women’s studies) and gave her the support she needed to change her required capstone project from one she had made significant progress on to another that piqued her interest even more. “She took the challenging road of starting at the beginning with me to develop a project specifically geared to my passions. Now as I continue to work on my project I am exhilarated about my topic and its relevance to both my current interests and my future career goals, and I am so grateful for the effort, support and guidance offered to me by my Honors advisor.”
November 3, 2008