AASCU Innovations Exchange
Your Source for Innovations in Public Higher Education

Western Kentucky logo
Project Title:Academic Advisor Development/Academic Advising and Retention CenterInstitution Name:Western Kentucky University (WKU) Innovation Category:Student Success Project Director:Kevin P. Thomas, Director, AARC, or Ellen W. Bonaguro, Associate Dean, AARCContact Information:(270) 745-5065, kevin.thomas@wku.edu , Ellen.Bonaguro@wku.edu, Website:http://www.wku.edu/mac
Project Description:The Academic Advising and Retention Center provides development and support for faculty and staff advisors so that they can be more informed and better-prepared, eventually leading to increased student retention and completion. The Master Advisor Certificate (MAC) program was created in the Spring of 2008 in response to faculty requests to provide additional training for academic advisors. Four sessions (2 1/2 hours each) give participants an opportunity to learn advising theories, ideas, and practices needed to provide excellent advising services, and the fifth session is a graduation celebration. The Campus Advising Network (CAN) is an established network of advisors who meet monthly to discuss advising topics, policies, and procedures on a campus level and a regional/national level. It was established six years ago to provide a way for academic advisors throughout the campus to meet, discuss, and work through advising issues/successes they may be experiencing as well as provide an avenue for advisor training.
Objectives:
  • Build a formal training avenue for faculty advisors at the university
  • Build an avenue for academic advisors throughout university to communicate regarding advising issues/successes
  • Provide informative sessions with topics that are relevant to all advisors
  • Create an awareness across campus of the importance of advising to student persistence and graduation
Outcomes:
  • The Spring of 2011 marks the fourth class of the Master Advisor Certificate program. We have had the following number of faculty members graduate from the program (each session starts with 25, but perfect attendance is required for graduation):
    • Class of 2008: 19
    • Class of 2009: 14
    • Class of 2010: 15 (1 honorary graduate-WKU Provost)
    • Class of 2011: 21
  • For six years there have been at least seven Campus Advising Network sessions held.
    1. 2005/2006: Attendance Unknown
    2. 2006/2007: 152 faculty/staff advisors in attendance
    3. 2007/2008: 219 faculty/staff advisors in attendance
    4. 2008/2009: 252 faculty/staff advisors in attendance
    5. 2009/2010: 239 faculty/staff advisors in attendance
    6. 2010/2011: 196 faculty/staff advisors in attendance (through half of schedule)
Challenges/Problems Encountered:The most critical problem MAC faces is attendance. Each year we have been able to start with a class of twenty-five advisors. MAC participants will attempt to excuse themselves from one of the sessions, not do the homework in a timely or appropriate manner, or come in/leave early. We have a hard stance on these issues and will not allow someone to continue on. Occasionally, the Campus Advising Network is asked to consider having a topic that is not as “related” to the advising field. We have to take the approach of meeting the needs of advisors, and not necessarily those that just volunteer to present. Location has been a problem in past years because session attendance will vary from 30-60 depending on time of the year and topic. This also causes the issue of providing lunch for this number of people.
Evaluation Approach:Evaluation for the Master Advisor Certificate program is conducted at the end of each year of the program. We ask for feedback regarding each session and for ideas to improve the program. We also try to find the positives from the sessions and if they would recommend the MAC program to other faculty. Evaluation of the Campus Advising Network is very informal. We are providing informational sessions on advising hot topics and have viewed attendance as a key indicator of the value to the advising community. The Campus Advising Network has positively affected the knowledge and skills of the advisors that attend as evidenced by the increase we have seen in data collected through the WKU Student Engagement Survey and the National Survey on Student Engagement.
Potential for Replication:Both programs have great potential for replication. The Master Advisor Certificate Program, while designed for faculty at WKU, could be used for all advisors on a campus. As far as the preparation for this type of initiative, it is making sure the presenters focus on important advising issues for a particular campus and that they work to inform the participants in the best way possible. Some things to remember regarding the Campus Advising Network would be current advising models, other existing/similar programs, and keeping the program on the same day and time every semester. We have had many people ask to move CAN, and we have held strong to CAN being one Wednesday a month from noon until 1:30p.m.
Additional Resources:Campus Advising Network www.wku.edu/can 
CEO-to-CEO Contact:Gary A. Ransdell , Presidentpresident@wku.edu
(270) 745-4346
Date Published: Monday, April 4, 2011