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

Monday, March 14, 2016

ACA March 2016 General Meeting

It's amazing how quickly the semester is going by! Our meeting for March has already come and gone.

I did have some technical difficulties this time around and not all of the pictures that I took were actually captured on my phone...  I hope you all will forgive me and that my replacement photos will suffice!

All in all, it was another great meeting. Thanks to University Extension for sponsoring our breakfast!

Tacos = Good

There was also fruit! It looked something like this.

Decaf Coffee is the best! Really!

Kathleen Mabley with Texas Extended Campus kicked off the meeting. Check your email for a Qualtrics survey that her office sent out to get more feedback about advisor engagement with UEX.

Next up was Katy Redd with the Counseling and Mental Health Center (CMHC). She walked us through the new Thrive app for iPhones that the CMHC has developed. 

The app looked really cool! Each topic had a quote, a video of a UT student discussing a challenge, an activity, and personalized feedback. 
Everyone loves a good quote!

One of the topics you can work through on the Thrive app
Dian Rudd, also with CMHC, discussed recognizing and supporting students in crisis. I am very sorry to report that none of the pictures I took of Dian were saved on my phone! But thank you to Dian for coming to speak with us!

Elizabeth Krieg was next representing UT Staff Council. They are holding a professional development fair on March 23rd in FAC 328 from 11:30 to 1:30. Stop by to see all of the great opportunities UT has for developing professionally. 

UT Staff Council!

Sarah McKay and Cindy Gladstone recognized the recipients of our wonderful nominees for the NACADA Outstanding Advising Awards.

Outstanding Advising Program Award:  BBA Academic Advising Program – McCombs School of Business

Outstanding New Advisor Award – (Primary Role):  Thomas Fawcett, Senior Academic Advisor – College of Liberal Arts

Outstanding Advising Award - (Primary Role):  Jackie Salcedo, Undergraduate Academic Advisor, Graduate Coordinator, Course Schedule – College of Liberal Arts

We closed the meeting with kudos and announcements. Thanks to everyone for coming. See you next month!

And I hope you got to check out the great promotional materials the CMHC brought for us. They had some excellent stickers!

Kudos for this month:

From Jeff Mayo and Josephine Bibby
Thank you to everyone who attended the ACC to UT Marketplace in February! We got the opportunity to talk to over 100 ACC students who are interested in becoming Longhorns. Without the participation of UT advisors and support staff, we would not be able to reach these students and it's so appreciated!

From Tisha Monsey
Kudos to Eric Carter and the rest of the Professional Development Day team for taking PDD to a whole new level! The website and app were so useful, and I enjoyed having the opportunity to get off-campus away from work distractions to focus on professional development. You took risks and really spiced things up!

From Desiree Alva
Shout out to all of the wonderful advisors who helped make Spring Orientation a success and props to those gearing up for the next round of orientations!

From Lovelys
Big KUDOS! to the co-chairs for Professional Development Day (Eric Carter, Sarah Talley, Emily Schroeder, and Mary DeSopo), as well as the committee and volunteers who put on one of the best PDDs I've attended. Cheers!

Kudos to Veronica Vasquez, Antoinette Stanley, Richard Hogeda and Sherry Field for hosting an informal lunch discussion on retention issues. It was a very relaxed forum to begin a general discussion and to find ways to share for the benefit of all our students.

Kudos to Jay Guevara for attending the First Year Experience conference in Orlando and finding ways to share what you learned.

Kudos to the attendees of PDD who took the time to complete sessions surveys and provide constructive feedback. PDD is a great learning forum for speakers to present ideas in a safe environment and it is made better knowing that our colleagues care enough to try to help us improve for the future. Cheers!

Kudos to Kelsey for doing such a wonderful job in her role as Historian. I love your blog entries and I super-duper love the Kudos idea!

Kudos to Blake Willms - ACA Communications Coordinator - for rolling out the new ACA website to fit the university template. I look forward to your continued efforts in making our website a helpful resource for UT staff. Cheers!

From Andrea Gonzalez
A MASSIVE KUDO to the PDD committee for providing the attendees a comfortable forum to engage in thought and growth, while talking with staff we may or may not typically talk with. It takes effort to force yourselves to talk through all of the details and stamina to pull it all off. You did a great job and I appreciate it!

From Anonymous
Congratulations Ashley Clark on a great presentation at NACADA Region 7!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

February 2016 News Digest

Take a look at this month's digest for great articles on current issues and conversations in higher education.

2 Keys to Success for Underprivileged Students: When to Start College, and Where to Go

A study from Drexel University found that those who started college within a semester of earning their high school diploma were 46% likely to earn a degree within 6 years, as opposed to only 15% for those who postponed matriculation.

The study also found that where the students went mattered. Only 22% of students who entered a community college earned their degree. On the other hand, graduation rates were 53% for public universities and 65% for private universities.

Demographics such as race, high school attendance, grade point average, and the level of turnover at the student’s high school also played a vital role in degree completion. The study shows that this problem requires the attention of not only higher education, but high schools as well.

Students at Philadelphia High School

 Why Do Colleges Still Use Grades?

A professor at the City University of New York, Trudy Milburn, is questioning why grades are still used to determine course performance despite widespread skepticism of the usefulness of the grading system.

Milburn argues that grades have become inflated in part due to colleges' reliance on adjunct professors who are judged partly on student evaluations. She states that having students demonstrate a certain level of mastery to pass a course would be a more accurate way of measuring the skills and knowledge a student has gained. 

On the other hand, Professor Valen Johnson at Texas A&M University argues that grades are not meaningless because they encourage students to work harder and are an easy way to compare students' performance in a course. However, he is concerned about the trend of grade inflation.

Why a Congresswoman Is Pressing Colleges to Do More on Harassment

Democratic Representative Jackie Speier is working to punish harassment by professors and researchers on campus. She was responsible for pushing legislation to reform harassment in the military and hopes to do the same on college campuses.

Often universities do not punish these perpetrators because of their academic achievement. This causes victims to feel like the system is rigged, and it leaves lifelong scarring for the victims.

Speier also believes academic institutions think they are above the law because they have their own code of conduct. She is now trying to push legislation that would end funding for professors who have committed these acts. This will hopefully cause universities to take these accusations more seriously and be more inclined to punish these professors.

U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier

As Big-Data Companies Come to Teaching, a Pioneer Issues a Warning

Candace M. Thille, who helped start the movement to bring big data to college classrooms, is now warning that rapid commercialization can hurt universities.

Adaptive learning is the use of a data-driven algorithm that presents students with the content they are ready to learn next. Although adaptive learning has many potential benefits for professors and students in identifying areas where they struggle, private companies are creating these systems without revealing how they work.

Thille believes that instead of commodifying this technology at such an early stage in its development, universities should be responsible for these adaptive learning systems because universities are better equipped to understand how this learning happens.
Candace Thille, an education researcher at Stanford University

Better Advising Beats Free Tuition for Improving Degree Completion, Say Experts

According to a survey of higher education experts, students are more likely to get their degrees if they have access to highly structured curricula and proactive advising than if they get free tuition for the first two years of college.

The experts also believe instructional software that adapts to students’ paces are helpful to their learning. (This is interesting in light of the article about big data above).

A quarter of the experts ranked the current state of undergraduate education as below neutral, and experts cited "institutional culture and structures" far more often than any other reason.

A Piece of UT Austin History

The Battle Oaks, at the corner of 24th and Whitis, are among the oldest trees on UT's campus. They range from 250 to 300 years old and are believed to predate the Civil War.

The trees get their name from Dr. William James Battle who was the chairman of the Faculty Building Committee in 1923. At that time, new biological laboratories were planned to be built on a site that would necessitate the destruction of the trees. However, students and faculty banned together and petitioned for the preservation of the oaks.

Today, Facilities Services takes much care in preserving these beautiful trees as well as all of the trees and plants on our campus. Look for the asset tags on each tree as a sign of the dedication that goes into making our campus a beautiful place to learn and work.

Battle Oaks on the southeast corner of 24th and Whitis Ave

An asset tag like this marks each tree on campus

Summaries written by Kelsey Thompson and Stephanie Nandlal

Friday, January 29, 2016

January 2016 News Digest

Check out the articles below for a snapshot of the higher education news for January.

What It's Like to Teach Islam 101 When Anti-Muslim Rhetoric Runs High

Donald Trump has erased the distinction between fighting terrorists and fighting Muslims and this has sparked anti-Muslim sentiments across the nation.

In the midst of this, Terje Østebø talks about what it is like to teach Introduction to Islam at the University of Florida. He has his students confront images of violence and other portrayals of Islam in the media to better understand the religion and misconceptions surrounding it.

Mr. Østebø has the task of teaching his students that there is more to the religion than what politics and the media portray. He wants them to understand that things are not that simple and to think beyond these stereotypes.

Terje Østebø, Professor at the University of Florida

State Spending on Higher Education Continues Slow Improvement

State spending has increased by 4% for a third consecutive year. Thirty-nine states have reported increases for higher education while nine states have reported decreases from the previous year.

Although spending is down for some states, the data indicates that a majority of states are spending more on higher education than they did five years ago. Texas's spending on higher education has increased 8.7% over the last year.

This represents an ongoing recovery, slow as it may be, from the turmoil caused by the last recession.

Nearly One-Quarter of College Athletes Report Signs of Depression
The results of a survey of 500 Division I athletes found that 1/4th of the athletes reported signs of depression. 
Signs of depression were reported more often by female athletes than their male counterparts. 24% of athletes across 9 sports reported symptoms of depression.
Hopefully these findings will encourage colleges to take an active and comprehensive stance in addressing this issue.

Is University Research Missing What Matters Most?

University research has long been constrained by money. This constraint is causing researchers to lose sight of the real goal, which is to make a great contribution to society.

Instead, university research is being geared toward developing profitable products or cures rather than society-wide prevention. This is limiting areas like social science and psychology, which have the potential to create policies to address the root cause of issues.

Universities still place a greater emphasis on publications. Although these publications may bring attention and awards to the professors, they do little to tackle the problems presented in their findings.

A clever graphic to demonstrate the influence of money on research

Does Technology Ever Reduce the Costs of Teaching?

More technology has meant more spending for many smaller colleges.

According to consultants, technology does not reduce the cost of education unless it completely changes a process model. For example, if technology is used for grading, it saves a professor time to teach another class and then it can reduce costs.

Flipped classrooms, a model in which student watch lectures at home and do activities in class, also do not really save money unless professors share lectures. However, this idea often makes professors uncomfortable.

In order to find ways to save money through technology, these smaller colleges need to work with startups to test out pilot programs. Some things like sharing lectures between universities may work, but first, colleges need to get on board. 

A Piece of UT Austin History

Contrary to this winter's unseasonably warm weather, it does actually get cold in Austin, Texas from time to time. In February of 1899, campus was struck by the aptly named Great Blizzard of 1899. The temperature got down to an unbelievable -1ºF and campus was blanketed by six inches of snow.

Even more surprisingly, classes started right on time at 9:00am. However, the snow proved to be a great distraction. A crowd of students, armed with snowballs, trekked up to the Old Main Building to implore UT President George Winston to declare the day a holiday. He was gracious enough to agree and thus ensued a campus wide snowball fight.

The Great Blizzard of 1899

A Campus Snowball Fight in 1963

A Snow Day in 1966

Summaries written by Kelsey Thompson and Stephanie Nandlal