Friday, May 6, 2016

ACA Election for 2016-2017 Executive Officers

Below are the pictures and speeches of the folks who are running for an officer position in ACA for the 2016-2017 year. I've listed the pictures for everyone first and the speeches follow. Candidates are listed in alphabetical order by last name.

President- Elect

Justin Brady 

Rose Yurcina

Treasurer- Elect

Alexis George

Micah Jackman

Secretary

Anne Pugh

Briana Weiland

Historian

Kate O'Donnell

Susan Somers

Candidate Speeches

President- Elect

Candidate: Justin Brady


Good morning, everyone-

I want to start by thanking you for providing me with the opportunity to run for the President Elect position. I am honored and humbled to be considered for this role!

My name is Justin Brady-Joyner, and I have worked at UT since November 2009 when I was first hired with the Leadership and Ethics Institute in the Office of the Dean of Students, and transitioned to academic advising 3 years ago. My move into advising brought me into this amazing community, and I am consistently impressed with the organization.

My personal Core Values are Authenticity, Community, Compassion, Creativity, & Growth, and I strive to live and lead from these core values. They shape much of who I am and what I am drawn to, and connect with my goals for this position.

I love that ACA provides space for advisors to get involved within the organization, to connect with others around campus, to develop personally and professionally, and to share their ideas with each other. My primary goal is to ensure that ACA continues to foster healthy community among its members, and across the university.

Having served as the Pod Co-chair alongside Kayla Ford, I am grateful for the relationships I’ve seen establish and grow through the Pods. I am looking forward to seeing this program start up again this year, and hopeful that many of you will participate. The value of getting to know each other outside of our monthly meetings is beyond just the fun and silly things we learn about each other. Professionally, it is helpful to have a better understanding of others’ roles on-campus, and to be able to provide feedback and support.

Likewise, strong campus-wide relationships and teamwork are crucial to our success as an advising community and as a University. As President-Elect, I hope to represent ACA well by continuing to foster established relationships with partners around campus, and ensuring that information is shared and voices are heard. I want to continue the great work the ACA Advisory Board has done with Kayla’s fantastic leadership, and provide this as an outlet for gathering feedback from the organization. I recognize that we are each limited with our own experience, and by no means should my voice represent the whole, and I value the opportunity to include others in feedback-giving and decision-making processes wherever possible.

Finally, I want to encourage other members to become more involved in the organization. ACA provides a myriad of leadership opportunities, from serving as a Pod Leader, to joining a committee, or serving as a committee co-chair, or providing feedback through various communication channels. My experience has been richer due to my leadership roles with ACA and around campus. My hope is that each of you will find a meaningful way to connect with ACA this upcoming year, and continue your personal and professional growth.


Thank you for your consideration, and, borrowing the words from the great Ellen DeGeneres, “Be kind to one another.” 


Candidate: Rose Yurcina

Good morning ACA,

My name is Rose Yurcina and I am running for the office of President-Elect.

I have been an advisor at UT in the College of Fine Arts for four and a half years. Prior to advising, I served at UT for two years as a graduate program coordinator and one year as an academic assessment coordinator.

At first, I came to ACA meetings for the tacos.

Come on--admit it. There are mornings when only tacos (or coffee!) could lure you away from your full email inbox.

But ACA isn’t just about tacos. I’ve learned it’s about professional development and building relationships. It’s about serving students the best we can.  

I’ve been a member of ACA since I started advising in the spring of 2011. Since then I’ve served one year on the Awards and Recognition Committee, presented at Professional Development Day in 2015, and currently serve on the ACA advisory council.

In the performing arts, it’s customary to list your special skills at the bottom of your resume. You know, things like backflips, juggling, an excellent Donald Trump impression (although I doubt anyone is in the mood for that one right now).

When it comes to serving ACA, I don’t really have any special skills. But I am willing to speak up in meetings. And I will look for ways to make sure the voice of advisors is heard in important campus conversations.

Because I believe that when we advocate for advisors, we advocate for students.


You all bring such tremendous value to UT. It is awesome working with so many amazing colleagues across campus. Thanks for your consideration. 


Treasurer- Elect

Candidate: Alexis George


Good morning, ACA! My name is Alexis George and I’m running for the position of Treasurer-Elect. I want to start off by thanking my not-so-secret nominator for submitting my name (Yet again, ha!) for nomination. I’m incredibly honored to have the opportunity to run for Treasurer-Elect and become even more involved in ACA and its inner workings. For the past two years, I’ve served on the ACA Awards & Recognition Committee, and this year, was a member of the Professional Development Day Committee, where I witnessed firsthand the importance of budgeting and planning for such an event.

I currently serve as the academic advisor for all undergraduate students in the School of Social Work, where I have been for the past two and half years. In this role, I regularly oversee the coordination and orchestration of academic advising, orientation, admissions events, course scheduling, curriculum planning, and event organizing. Because of the juxtaposition of these roles, I’ve developed excellent management skills and I’m an accomplished communicator. I’m very detail-oriented and when it comes to finances, I believe that everything has a place, must be tediously organized, communicated, documented, timely, and accurate.

ACA has always acted as a supportive space where I can fellowship with other academic advisors around campus. This has meant a lot to me, especially since I do not have any advising colleagues in my department who can relate to the intricacies of advising on an undergraduate level. I have always felt welcomed and at home here in ACA, and I want to give back in a greater capacity. As Treasurer-Elect, it would give me the opportunity to become even more involved with this organization, commune with all members, and work together with the ACA Executive Committee to continue the excellence that ACA is known for.


Thank you for your time and have a wonderful rest of the day!


Candidate: Micah Jackman

My name is Micah and I have been an Academic Advisor in the Biology Department for a little over a year now.  First I am very humbled and honored to be nominated for an ACA position.  The Treasurer-Elect position involves three of my favorite things: higher education, trying something new, and money.  Depending on when bills are due determines the priority of those three things.

 In our profession we tell our students every day to branch out and try something new whether it be joining a student org, volunteering, or meeting new people.  As advisors and individuals I think it is important that we do that as well in our professional life.  Thank you!



Secretary

Candidate: Anne Pugh


Hello, ACA! My name is Anne Pugh and I am an academic advisor in the College of Natural Sciences’ Center for First Year Advising, where I started in June 2015. I realize my verbal speech at the meeting on May 4th was somewhat haphazard due to short notice, so hopefully I can make up for it here by giving you some of my actual credentials.

When I was an undergraduate student at UT, I was both an Orientation Advisor and FIG mentor, which is what led me to my passion for helping undergraduate students navigate higher education and, ultimately, academic advising. I left UT for a few years to get my Master’s in Higher Education Administration and Policy at Northwestern University, where I conducted original research and held several internship roles. These included being a career counselor, a college advisor for high school students, and finally, an advisor for new student organization creation at Northwestern University. Because of these experiences, I am now skilled at utilizing organization and communication every day to ensure accurate transmission and analysis of information. Additionally, my final position at Northwestern involved advising on constitution creation, which I believe will fit well with the ACA Secretary role since I have become incredibly accustomed to how organizations formally run. My standard is to be meticulous and detail-oriented but still fun and concise.

As Secretary, I hope to keep ACA running smoothly with good humor (maybe a puppy picture or two), and to get to know everyone in UT’s advising community much better. For those of you that like to nerd out over tools like StrengthsQuest like I do, my top 5 strengths are Input, Learner, Activator, Relator, & Responsibility. They illustrate how much I love learning and sharing new information with others so we can achieve greatness. Thank you for the nomination, the opportunity, and your time; it is much appreciated! Have a great day!



Candidate: Briana Weiland


I am an Academic Advisor in the Student Division for the College of Liberal Arts and would be honored to serve as the 2016-2017 Secretary for the Academic Counselors Association.  I began advising four years ago for pre-health students and the Neuroscience program at the University of Southern California.  I was quickly hooked on the ways in which rapport-building in advising can lead to stronger institutional engagement for students.  In December of 2015, I began working in the College of Liberal Arts Student Division at the University of Texas at Austin with Undeclared students.  I have truly enjoyed the importance of connecting students with institutional involvements, resources, and experiences that match their individual needs and interests.  Each day, I get to encourage decision making skills, consider possible personal or academic roadblocks, and challenge students to take their next step toward academic and professional development.

While I am newer to UT, I have diverse experience in advising and have also served on a committee very similar to the Academic Counselors Association.  I served a two-year term at my previous institution, the first of which I led a committee that revamped USCs Leave of Absence process and the second year was the Chair of the Council of Academic Advisors.  In that role, I developed, organized, and executed campus-wide monthly general meetings, as well as executive committee meetings.

I look forward to becoming more involved with the UT community of academic counselors through the Academic Counselors Association and know that my previous experience in advising and organizational skills as Chair will fit well with the Secretary position.


Thank you for considering me for the 2016-2017 ACA Secretary.


Historian

Candidate: Katie O'Donnell


Good morning, ACA. Thank you for the opportunity to run for Historian position for the 2016-2017 ACA Executive Committee. My name is Katie O’Donnell and I am an academic advisor with the College of Liberal Arts where I split my time between International Relations and Global Studies program and the department of Sociology. I have been at UT for a year and a half and I am new to the advising profession.  In my short time here I have enjoyed becoming a part of this engaging professional community. I look forward to ACA meetings as a place to meet professionals from across this huge campus and to learn more about the work each of you do. The Argosy blog has added to that sense of connection allowing me to recap new information from campus partners and remembering important names.

This year I wanted to get more involved in ACA as a Professional Development Day committee member. I was happy to find a way to share my interest in strategic communication and graphic design by helping to develop the PDD event logos and program.

I developed that interest in what feels like a past life. I was a communications and development specialist for a small non-profit called America SCORES for 3 years before deciding to make the leap into Higher Education. As a communications specialist I was tasked with taking a lot of photos of adorable 9 year-olds playing soccer (America SCORES is an after-school program empowering youth through soccer and poetry) and managing the organization’s website. I recognize that the Historian contributes to the ACA Executive Committee in ways other than taking photos and updating a blog, but I should have that part covered.

If I am elected as Historian, I would hope to continue the monthly higher education updates and Kelsey’s Kudos. I would be interested in working on other ways to connect members to each other and campus history perhaps with campus tours for new ACA members or other interesting historical excursions across campus. I hope you will consider me for the 2016-2017 Historian Position. Thank you for your time.


Candidate: Susan Somers

Hi, I’m Susan Somers, and I’m here to ask for your vote for ACA Historian for 2016-17. I’ve been an academic advisor here at UT-Austin for going on six years, and I’ve been a member of ACA that entire time. My association with UT actually started in 2005, when I moved to Austin to attend graduate school in history.  After spending a few years in that program, I decided I did not want to write a dissertation, but that I had a passion for working with undergraduate students. I became a bit of an advisor wannabe and ultimately started as an advisor in the history department in 2010. In 2013 I moved over to Waggener Hall, where I currently serve as Senior Academic Advisor for majors in the Departments of Classics and Philosophy.  I really love working with any and all UT students, but I have a special love for working with students in academic difficulty and transfer students.

I’ve always been an ACA member but so far haven’t been as involved as I would have like to have been in ACA committees and leadership. When I got an email that someone had nominated me as Historian, it seemed serendipitous. I’m moving off a major committee for my College next year and I’d thought to myself, I wonder if this year is the right one to step up with ACA.  I have always appreciated the networking and support that ACA provides and I would relish the opportunity to deepen my ties with all of you by serving on your ACA Executive Committee next year. I’m confident that with my background in history and interest in the direction of higher ed, I could ably perform the duties of ACA historian by recording events for posterity and sharing news updates on our blog. I would also love to see more pieces on the history of ACA here at UT with interviews from some of our founders – that would hopefully help contextualize UT’s position as a pioneer in the profession of academic advising.

Please vote for the 2016-2017 ACA Executive Officer positions here: http://bit.ly/ACAElections




Uncontested Positions

Public Relations (Communications) Coordinator
Blake Wilms

Vice President/Program Co-Chairs


Jillian Sise

Daniel Zarazua

Congratulations to Blake, Jillian, and Daniel!



Monday, May 2, 2016

April 2016 News Digest

Check out some higher education news for April!

Common Application to Change Gender-Identity Options

As part of society’s gradual shift in its understanding of gender, the Common Application will now ask students to state their “sex assigned at birth.” There will also be an optional free-response text field for students to describe their gender identity.

This allows transgender students to freely express their identity on their college applications.

The Universal College Application has also decided to modify their gender identification sections in a similar manner.



Who’s Going to Be Punished for the Worst Academic Scandal Anyone Can Remember?

According to reports, UNC has offered fake classes to student athletes since 1993. The question still remains on who will be punished or who will enforce that punishment. The NCAA, UNC’s accrediting agency, and the university itself may both be part of imposing penalties.

The toughest penalties from the NCAA will most likely affect scholarships to student athletes. This will mostly hurt students who were not yet enrolled in the university during the scandal.



Yale Keeps Name for College That Honors a Slavery Apologist

Although Yale recently decided to get rid of the term “master” to refer to the leader of each residential college, it has decided not to change the name of Calhoun College. The college is named after alum and slavery sympathizer, John C. Calhoun. 

The President of the University, Peter Salovey, argues that keeping the name facilitates the discussion of slavery and racism rather than just forgetting about it. Yale has responded to some demands from protestors and agreed to remove portraits of Calhoun from the college.

A former African American student and current professor said seeing the name everyday was a source of inspiration to prove that Calhoun was wrong about African Americans. However, many black students on campus wanted the college to be renamed.

Yale's Calhoun College

What Community Colleges Are Doing to Counteract Declining Enrollments

According to EAB, a research and technology group, enrollment in community colleges has dropped 16% from 2010 to 2015.

The improving economy has seen more people going to work rather than school, but four-year colleges are also responsible for this drop. Four-year universities have increased their marketing techniques to reach more students.

According to Carla Hickman of EAB, community colleges need to do a better job at educating students on transfer pathways and career opportunities in order to counteract this decline in enrollment. Many community colleges have also begun to improve their marketing techniques as well.

A Piece of UT Austin History

Big Bertha is the name of the massive bass drum that's wheeled around at football games. Nicknamed the "Sweetheart of the Longhorn Band," it was acquired in 1955 from the University of Chicago. When Chicago decided to drop varsity football in 1939, UT bought it for $1.

The drum is over 100 years old and is 8ft in diameter, 3.4ft wide, and over 10 ft high when set on its carriage. A group known as the "Bertha Crew' cart the drum around during football games. Next time you see it, remember that sometimes $1 can actually buy you a lot.


The Bertha Crew

Vintage Big Bertha

Big Bertha with updated branding



Summaries written by Kelsey Thompson and Stephanie Nandlal

Thursday, April 14, 2016

ACA April 2016 General Meeting

April's meeting was action packed! A lot of the information was geared towards getting prepared for summer orientation.

Big thanks to New Student Services for sponsoring this meeting and providing us with a delicious breakfast.

People grabbing for tacos at lightning speed


Wow, what well-designed and informative fliers!

Dr. Celena Mondie-Milner of New Student Services started us off by introducing her team. It was helpful to put names to faces.




Dr. Milner and her team gave updates about what is new for orientation this summer and the major changes that have taken place since last year.


Next up was Dr. Hillary Procknow from the Texas Success Initiative with TSI updates for orientation. I've also heard they have a pretty great advisor over there! 

Z bars = TSI bars

Continuing on the theme of orientation updates, Erica Sowder from the International Office talked about requirements that international students need to fulfill during orientation. 

I bars = International bars

Sherry Bell from University Health Services rounded out the discussion on orientation bars by giving updates on what students who have a medical bar will need to do during orientation.
H bars = Medical bars

Dr. Jim Henson from Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services switched gears from orientation bars to talk about online course options in Liberal Arts.

No bars!

The meeting ran a little long so we quickly wrapped up with some kudos and announcements.

Folks headed back to work 

Thanks to everyone who came out. We will see you in May!

Kudos for this month:

From Lovelys
Kudos to the ACA Executive Officers for cleaning out our storage space (even though it wasn't by choice). We've acquired a lot of stuff over the years, so thanks for finding a new home for the items that are worth saving. Cheers!

Cheers to Kelsey for moving on to the next phase of her life. You will be missed in the advising world but your kudos legacy will live forever!

Cheers to all the Orientation Advisor trainers who are also advisors. I know you're only 2/3 complete with the training and the next round comes at your busiest time, but the benefit we gain is very much appreciated!

Big CHEERS to Christine Anderson, Douglas Haake, Yma Revuelta, Alma Salcedo & Michael Schmidt for receiving the Texas Exes James W. Vick Awards for Academic Advising. Your acknowledgement from students is a testament to the importance of the work that all of us do.

Cheers to everyone who attended the FUNdraising Committee Potluck (March 10th) and the happy hour (March 22nd). As the saying goes...the advisors that eat and drink together...

Friday, April 1, 2016

March 2016 News Digest

Here are some highlights in higher education news for March.

The Price of Admission

The Texas Tribune recently published a three part article series about affirmative action, college access, and graduation rates at UT. I recommend reading the articles themselves as they include several valuable student stories alongside relevant information for our campus.

The first article takes a look at the history of affirmative action at UT. The second discusses how students who go to high schools in Texas that are only a few miles apart have widely different experiences when it comes to going to college. The third article discusses recent efforts to increase graduation rates on campus, highlighting the ULN and TIP programs.

Protestors after a 1996 appeals court ruling
effectively banned affirmative action in Texas


How North Carolina's Ban on Anti-Bias Ordinances Could Affect Colleges

North Carolina’s Governor, Pat McCrory, passed a bill that prevents cities and counties from passing anti-discrimination ordinances to protect LBGT people. The bill has seen many critics and its legality is being challenged.


Although the bill does not impact private universities, public universities in North Carolina are now trying to figure out how to protect students without violating the bill. The bill forces people who identify as transgender to use the restroom that corresponds with the gender assigned to them at birth. This bill will harm recruitment of students who identify as or support the LGBT community and may jeopardize Title IV funding.

Students protest North Carolina's passing of House Bill 2

The Places on Campus Where Concealed-Carry Is Most Controversial

Georgia lawmakers are now proposing a campus carry law similar to Texas’. Although the Governor of Georgia, Nathan Deal, is a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, he has hesitated on passing the bill.

Unlike The University of Texas at Austin, the Georgia bill would allow students to carry weapons into disciplinary hearings, campus daycares, and classes that precollege students are attending. These are some of the concerns the Governor has raised with passing the bill.


Why Studying Abroad Is Safer Than You May Think

Going abroad may be less dangerous than staying at home. A study finds that students in the United States are 2.18 times more likely to die than students abroad.

The question remains as to whether this and other data will be enough to combat the rising wave of fear about students going overseas and curb proposals for Congress to regulate study abroad programs.

Despite growing fear, advisors plan to use the data to talk to students and parents about going abroad.

NYU students studying abroad in Ghana

How Sal Khan Hopes to Remake Education

Khan Academy, which started as solely online videos, has grown into a nonprofit dedicated to remaking education by focusing on the philosophy of mastery education.

Khan believes the education system is flawed because it pushes students to move too quickly and hopes Khan Academy will help to remedy that.

Although he has already created a brick and mortar school for younger students, he imagines creating a university that focuses on teaching students through real world experiences.

A Piece of UT Austin History

The Almetris Duren Residence Hall is named after Almetris Marsh Duren (1910-2001) who was a beloved mentor and advisor for black students on campus during the turbulent early years of integration. 

She earned her bachelor's degree in 1950 from Huston-Tillotson University and taught home economics there for several years. When the first black undergraduate freshman arrived on UT's campus in 1956, she left her teaching position and became a housemother to the women among the group. The residence was soon renamed the Almetris Co-Op. She was promoted to student development specialist for minority affairs. In 1974, she founded the Innervisions of Gospel Choir, which was among one of the first predominantly Black, non-greek organizations at UT Austin. She also began Project Info, UT's first minority recruitment program.

In addition to her valuable work in mentoring and advising, she published a book about the history of the integration of black students at UT Austin in 1979 called "Overcoming: A History of Black Integration at The University of Texas at Austin." She retired in 1981, a deeply cherished advisor and mentor. 

Almetris Duren receiving the Margaret C. Berry
award for outstanding contributions to student life

Almetris Duren and the women of Almetris Co-Op

Drawing of the Almetris Co-Op



Summaries written by Kelsey Thompson and Stephanie Nandlal