Friday, May 8, 2015

ACA General Election for 2015-2016 Executive Officers

Courtney Sy - candidate for President-Elect
Kayla Ford - candidate for President-Elect   
Sarah Talley - candidate for Treasurer-Elect        

Sara Sanchez - candidate for Treasurer-Elect

Craig Gilden - candidate for Treasurer-Elect

At the May 6, 2015 ACA General Meeting, nominees for each of the elected officer positions were asked to make a speech.  We were fortunate enough to have two offices with multiple nominees and have asked each of the candidates running for a contested position to provide their written speech and a photo to give members who were not able to attend the meeting an opportunity to learn more about their interest in the office.

The two contested offices are President-Elect and Treasurer-Elect.  To read more about the expectations of each office, please review the ACA ByLaws at the following site:

The candidate speeches and photos are in reverse alphabetical order within each contested office.



Candidate:  Courtney Sy

Good afternoon, everyone.

My name is Courtney Sy (or Courtney Lockhart if you only know me from more than three years ago). I am an academic advisor for the Department of Anthropology in the College of Liberal Arts, a position I have held for 6.5 years. Prior to this role, I advised students in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. I attended UT as an undergrad and moved into academic advising shortly after graduating.

My involvement with ACA began almost immediately. Over the years, I have chaired Advising Expo and the scholarship committee, served on the exec committee as co-PR/Communications Coordinator and co-Vice President/Program Chair, and for the past three years, co-chaired the ROAD committee. I have also been involved with the ACA Pod program this year and absolutely love it! It has been so much fun meeting new friends and getting reacquainted with a few older ones.

I have been on this campus as a student and as a professional for 16 years, so I think that qualifies me to say I have been here for a while, and just as many of you have, I have seen UT change a lot. This is certainly a time of significance in the history of our University; we are transforming how we educate our students – and the world – in some tremendous ways.

We are building a medical school. We are using innovative technology in our advising offices and in our (sometimes virtual) classrooms. We have new policies, like internal transfer restrictions and transcript-recognized minors. We have new deans in place or on the way. We have a new System Chancellor. We have a new Vice Provost position that will certainly impact our advising practices. On top of all this, we have a new President beginning his term in a few short weeks.

Over the next two years, we will find out how the Classes of 2016 and 2017 measure up – will we meet our four-year graduation goal of 70%?

So, yeah, UT is changing in some pretty significant ways. Admittedly, it can all feel a bit chaotic at times. How we, as a community of advising professionals, navigate the chaos and work with the changes is up to us. And that’s where this organization is so necessary. It has been an invaluable resource to me, and my mission is to continue that tradition for all members. As President-Elect and then as President, I hope to help make sense of the uncertainty by keeping our community informed, forging new campus partnerships, and ensuring our voices are heard across the University and beyond. To accomplish this, next year I will start by leading an active ACA Advisory Council.

I am excited by the prospect of serving on next year’s executive committee, especially under Sarah’s leadership. I know I would learn a lot from her – and I hope, mostly for your sake, that her sense of humor rubs off on me! I hope to learn a lot from all of you as we collaborate not to just maintain our sense of community but to strengthen it. I am excited, and feel inspired really, by the opportunity to lead our organization through these uncertain times.

Thank you for the nomination – I am humbled and honored to even be considered for this position. Thank you for your time, and thank you for your consideration.

Candidate:  Kayla Ford

Good afternoon! I want to start with a few apologies. First, I apologize for missing the meeting today, but I am fortunate enough to be spending the day with my sweet little daughter Adalyn who was born last month....which leads me to my second apology: I am sorry if you find any errors or strange sentences in my speech, but I am living on just a few hours of sleep and I am typing my speech with my one free hand!

With that said, I want to really start by thanking you for the opportunity to run for the President Elect position again this year. I am honored and humbled and want to share with you today two areas that I would prioritize if I was elected into this position.

First, I would focus on community building. In this past year, I have really come to experience and further appreciate the power of community through my involvement in the ACA Pod program. The Pods have been a blessing for me as I have gotten to know my colleagues better, both in a personal and professional sense. I have gotten to learn random fun facts about my pod members, discuss our strengths together, visit their office spaces and lean on them for support/advice and I am so grateful for these developing relationships. Additionally, while I think it is imperative that we continue to build community within ACA, I also know that building community beyond ACA with campus partners is as equally important and I will strive to represent ACA well across campus.

The second goal for me as President Elect would be a focus on leadership. Leadership can be defined in many different fact every person likely has their own definition of leadership. For me, I see so many opportunities for leadership within ACA and I want to encourage members to engage in the organization through active leadership: this could be anything from joining a committee, to leading a project for a committee, to serving as a committee co-chair or even proposing a new idea/providing feedback to committees or the executive board.  The more ACA members we have that are actively engaged in the ACA community as leaders, the better we will be as an organization and the better we can serve the UT community and our students. I hope to see leaders emerging within ACA that are new to UT, new to advising, and also those that have been at UT for many years or in advising for many years. Leadership in many forms and on many levels will help us be the best we can be!

Thank you again for your time this afternoon and for the opportunity to run for this important position! Congratulations on making it through registration and I look forward to seeing you all soon again this summer as we welcome our new students at orientation!

Candidate: Sarah Talley

I hope everyone is having a wonderful day.  First, let me say I am touched by being nominated for ACA Executive Board.  I have a goal to become more involved on campus and within the advising community here at UT.  So I’m excited to run for Treasurer-Elect, and spend time learning all the numbers/things from my office neighbor, Josh Barham.

In my almost 2 years at UT, I have become more familiar with the work that we all do. Although it can be demanding, and sometimes seem that we have thankless jobs. By showing up to work every day, we all are making a difference within the machine of higher education, both here at UT and across the country.

Running for the position of Treasurer-Elect will allow me to work with amazing people across campus. In doing so I will be able to give back to the organization that helped make me feel at home when I first started at UT two years ago. I look forward to continuing the great work Josh and previous ACA Treasurers have done.

I’ll work to be diligent and organized with all the numbers/things Treasurer-Elect will encompass. As a part of ACA Executive Board, it is my duty to continue to create that feeling of connectedness for others who join and continue to be a part of ACA.

Thank you for your time.

Sarah Talley

Candidate:  Sara Sanchez

Thank you for the nomination for Treasurer-Elect.  Below are a few reasons that I would like to share with you regarding why I would like you to vote for me.

1. In my previous jobs as Office Manager for Breakthrough Austin and as a Program Coordinator for the Equal Opportunity in Engineering program at UT, I was responsible for handling large sums of money.  Through these positions, I managed multiple accounts and was responsible for purchasing, depositing checks, budgeting, and maintaining accurate financial records.  Through my experiences, I had to practice strong organizational skills and attention to detail to make sure that everything ran smoothly and was reported back to funders.

2. I like to respond to people very quickly which means that if you are needing money to pay for an event or are needing to get reimbursed, it will not take long to get a response from me.  My personal goal when it comes to email is to reply by one business day. I feel that being responsive enables trust.  I would take the same approach when it comes to working for you.

3. In my personal life, my family has followed the Dave Ramsey financial plan, which includes setting financial goals and zero based budgeting so every dollar is accounted for.  This is a very disciplined financial plan that involves a lot of creativity when it comes to paying off debt.  This has helped me to become very responsible when it comes to managing money.

4. This past year I was a member of the ACA scholarship committee and I was the chair of the HFSA Scholarship Committee.  I would like to be the Treasurer Elect to get more involved with ACA and to develop leadership skills.  I’ve been a part of ACA for three years and would like to get to know more people from across campus.  Please vote for me.

Candidate:  Craig Gilden

Good afternoon! Thank you for the opportunity to run for the position of Treasurer-Elect as part of the ACA Executive Committee. My name is Craig Gilden, and I have worked as an academic advisor in the College of Liberal Arts since 2011, starting with the Dean’s Office in Gebauer to currently working in the CLA as the advisor for the department of Geography and the Environment.

While I have served as the co-chair for the Advising Expo the past two years, for the most part my role within ACA has been more of a spectator than active participant. And to be honest, running for a position wasn’t really on my radar until I found out I had been nominated. But once I took a moment to consider it, I realized that this is a prime example of a concept I talk to students about all the time. Whether it is what classes to sign up for or what jobs to apply to, I routinely preach to students to be open-minded, and put yourself out there, as you never know which door will open for you and where it will lead.

In my experience with advising, I have gotten to know and work with some awesome people on a variety of interesting projects, but that has mostly occurred for me within the Liberal Arts community. For me, being nominated for ACA is a great opportunity to get involved and get to know the advising community on a campus-wide level. And if I didn’t take advantage of this professional opportunity, I wouldn’t be following my own advice. ACA is a tremendous asset and resource for our campus, and I am excited about the potential to be a part of continuing that legacy. I believe that my demonstrated ability to stay organized and meet deadlines across multiple projects would serve me well in the role of Treasurer. I am grateful and excited about potentially having the ACA door being opened to me and am hopeful that you will give me the opportunity to serve as Treasurer and on the Executive Committee. Thank you!

Monday, March 23, 2015

ACA March 2015 General Meeting

Generously hosted by the School of Undergraduate Studies, the March General Meeting was held on March 4th, 2015 in the SAC Ballroom. Full meeting minutes will be available on the ACA website.

This meeting was epic for three reasons:

1. The sheer volume and variety of breakfast foods available.
2. The announcement of an upcoming ACA Skate Nite!
3. The fact that, despite the full agenda and full breakfast spread, we ended 20 minutes early! This is UNHEARD OF in ACA history, and might never happen again.

Let's take a look at the photographic evidence of the breakfast spectacle:

A sea of tacos. 

Two kinds of donuts. 

All the fruit, including oranges,

strawberries, blackberries, 

and bananas. No scurvy for ACA on UGS' watch!

That's three types of juice, in case you can't tell. 

Coffee. No big deal, right?

Except that there was back up coffee, sneakily stashed under the table!! No one went without caffeine this time around. 

Oh yeah, and a selection of tea for all the members of the Finer Things Club

"A bouquet of forks! How charming!" -overheard at the ACA meeting

After everyone was thoroughly stuffed, we heard from our fine speakers starting with David Spight introducing the UGS representatives:
He insisted on singing the National Anthem before letting anyone else talk. It was weird, but totally on key! :)

Hillary Procknow, filling us in on TSI and anticipated changes for this year's incoming freshman class:
Lovin' life!

Then Jen Morgan, spreading the Extremely Good News of proposed core curriculum updates for the 2015-2016 GIC:
We might get a standardized common core curriculum for all catalogs, y'all. Rejoice!

Sean Smith, showing off the new internal transfer site for the College of Natural Sciences: 
Fancy and functional!

And some reminders from Patty Micks about First-Year Signature Course registration:
Getting closer to making the dream of all students actually taking their UGS course in their first year a reality. 

And some updates from our fearless Pod Program co-chairs:

Kayla Ford, getting ready to dance like a 1920s flapper. 

And finally, we heard from the general ACA membership for announcements: 

What a musical meeting we had this month. Jazz hands!

Even more jazz hands!

And finally, the grand announcement of ACA Skate Nite:

Doodle courtesy of Sarah McKay, Artist Extraordinaire. 

Our President is EXTREMELY EXCITED ABOUT SKATE NITE. That, or she's suffering from March Madness (which, in my universe, is a highly contagious mania that only occurs during the month of March, totally unrelated to basketball). 

We hope to see many of you out at Playland Skate Center on March 24th, and at the upcoming ACA meeting in April! In the meantime,

Friday, February 20, 2015

ACA January 2015 General Meeting

Happy 2015, everyone! New year, new ACA

Er, by "new ACA," I mean "same old fabulous ACA." That was clear, right?

The first general meeting of 2015 was hosted by the School of Information on Wednesday, January 14th in the SAC Ballroom North. Breakfast tacos and coffee were provided to make sure everyone kept their new year's resolutions to eat more breakfast tacos and drink more coffee. Mission accomplished!

The shiniest tacos in town.

Breakfast was had! Awkward photos were taken!

Gina is either using the most intense air quotes in the history of the world or is pretending to be a snake. I'm going to assume it's the latter, for the sake of whimsy. 

A warm welcome from our Madame President:

Always blurry. Sorry Julia. :(

The School of Information had their dean, career counselor and a program alumnus on hand to present on their graduate programs:

They schooled us with all of their information. Get it?
I'm sorry. 

The crowd, as always, was FASCINATED:

Then Rachel Watson came to advertise the Fitness Institute of Texas and the Get Fit programs:

We got this hilarious photo stock image of a baby, which is fantastic:

And then an update on live online courses from Dr. Henson:

Dr. James Henson. AKA Dr. Jim Henson. AKA Jim Henson.
What I'm trying to say is, why weren't there more Muppets in this presentation?

Er, that's supposed to be "ECO 304K." Love, The Economics Advising Team

And finally, your ACA Historian wants to make sure you don't forget to go to last week's Professional Development Day. 
Mark your calendars and fire up your DeLorean!

We hope to see you all at the March ACA meeting!

Monday, January 5, 2015

ACA November 2014 General Meeting

The final ACA meeting of the Fall 2014 semester was held on Tuesday, November 18th in the SAC Ballroom. Full meeting minutes can be found on the ACA website:

Generously hosted by the Office of Sustainability, the meeting boasted a refreshing twist: integration of sustainable breakfast and waste management with reusable utensils and recycling and compost bins available. We doing! Pretty awesome. Check out the bee-U-tee-ful spread they provided us!

As per usual, we kicked things off with a welcome and announcements from our esteemed President.
She updated us on changes to the Course-Load Reduction options for international students.

We then heard from the Office of Sustainability and got schooled on the amazing variety of initiatives they're working on.

Zero Waste Coordinator Jennifer Hobson
Karen Blaney, with an overview of sustainability initiatives (and JAZZ HANDS).
Any presentation that includes an XKCD comic has my heart forever.


I know you all love photos of presentation slides. Why else would I continue to insist on taking and posting them?!

Claire Moore presented on the HealthPoint Wellness Program on campus, discussing Farm to Work, the Tobacco-Free Campus initiative, and being Wellness Champions:

Much to the delight of the ACA members:

No one has EVER been this happy at a meeting before.
It was probably because prizes were being offered. 

Yep, that's a mustache mug prize.

Grace Hsieh then presented on the Energy and Water Conservation Program:

Sustainability folks have the best puns: 
I mean, I can barely handle how cute this is. THANKS A WATT for ensuring I'll never look at an electrical outlet without seeing a hilarious sidekick again. 

The Office of Sustainability wrapped it up with updates on the Sustainability Directory: 

Next up was a Bridging Disciplines Program update from Emily Watson: 

And then a presentation from the Wellness Network: 

Frances Nguyen and Katy Redd. I love that this photo totally embodies the loving exasperation we sometimes experience with our teammates. 
Justin Brady and Kayla Ford gave a final plug for the rebranded ACA Pod Program: 

Kayla Ford, reporting for duty!
And finally (whew, this was a full meeting, y'all!), Rob Reichle offered some updates on the Office of Undergraduate Research: 

Which included this gem of a photo in his presentation:

Send that kid back to the early '90s, because I cannot EVEN handle how fly he is!

And now, everybody's favorite blog post segment: Announcements, Introductions, and General Photos of the Crowd.

The APSA PDD Coordinators have reached the highest level of cohesion, as evidenced by their choreographed announcement:

Announcement from the "Guy's Table" (I'm pretty sure 3/4 of the ACA men are sitting at that table):
Triumphantly pointing at something/one important!

New ACA additions!

Josh Barham, getting us pumped about...SOMETHING (sorry, I was still distracted by the hilarity of the sustainability puns and stopped taking notes): 

"Hey, I'm a nice guy."
"Now let's go get 'em!"

And FINALLY, real evidence that of our special composting after the meeting!

Yeah, I ended the post on a photo of trash and compost bins. 

Thanks a watt, everybody!