Wednesday, December 18, 2013

ACA Holiday Party

The ACA Holiday Party was held on Wednesday, 12/11 at 2:30 pm in NHB 1.720.

The theme was "International Holidays" and featured decorations representing Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Chinese New Year, and New Year's Eve.  Refreshments were provided by the ACA memberships in the form of a dessert potluck.  Board games were placed around the room for party-goers to enjoy while multicultural holiday music played and a digital fireplace flickered in the background.  ACA members brought donations for the Foundations Communities Holiday Assistance Program and made cards and decorations for Ronald McDonald House and Meals on Wheels and More.

Photobooth pictures can be found online here:
ACA Holiday Party Committee members setting up in front of a digital fireplace

On the far right the photo booth backdrop is in progress! 

Kwanzaa table decorations; each table had an information card that described the holiday.  And Apples to Apples! 

Chinese New Year

Hanukkah table with craft supplies and Catch Phrase

A different Kwanzzaa table setup 

New Year's Eve 

Lovelys making holiday cards for Meals on Wheels and More

The Saturday after the party, the decorations were brought to St. David's hospital where they were put up in the Ronald McDonald House Family Room inside of St. David's.  The room is dedicated to families with children who are in the NICU at St. David's as a quiet place within the hospital to spend time when they cannot be by the bedside.
Ornaments made by ACA members

This Charlie Brown tree sure looks nice with extra ornaments!

Committee Chair Spotlight: Nominations Committee Chair Alanna Bitzel


Alanna Bitzel
Academic Counselor – Reading and Writing Programs
Intercollegiate Athletics – Football

What committee are you chairing? 

Why did you want to chair this particular committee?

I became an Academic Counselor for Football in 2011. In my first years as an advisor, ACA has served as an important resource. I found it to be incredibly easy to get involved with ACA; existing ACA members were super welcoming and supportive of my participation on committees and during events, even though I was new to advising and to the organization. I ran for ACA Secretary (which also oversees Nominations) because I want to welcome new members to the organization and encourage members to become involved. Fresh voices and perspectives are vital to the continued growth and development of ACA as an organization and to the strength of advising on campus.

Why do you think this committee is important to ACA and/or the university?

Nominations is important because it helps facilitate and promote new advising leadership within the organization and on campus.

What is one thing that you would like the membership to do to support your mission this year? 

I want to encourage ACA members to become involved – to join a committee, volunteer their time, participate in PDD, etc. Becoming involved does not have to become time-consuming, and everyone has something to offer. I also want to ask veteran ACA members to step outside of their comfort zones. Smile and introduce yourself to new members or members you have not yet met. Sit with someone new and talk with someone outside of your department at meetings or events. Share insights, and answer questions. These small gestures are important to building a sense of community and promoting learning among advisors on campus.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

30 for 30 Member Spotlight: Ana Dison

Hometown: Born in Stillwater, Oklahoma but grew up in Friendswood, Texas

College(s) attended: UT – BS Kinesiology; Oregon  State University – MEd. College Student Services 

Job title(s) and department(s) past and present: Assistant Director, Campus Recreation Services – University of Maryland, College Park; Assistant Director, Division of Recreational Sports – UT Austin; Academic Advisor, Department of Economics; Academic Advisor (multiple titles), Engineering Student Affairs; Senior Program Coordinator, Women in Engineering Program.

How did you end up at UT in the first place? I came to UT in 1987 as an undergraduate student and graduated in 1992 and went directly to graduate school at Oregon State. I had a graduate assistantship in Recreational Sports that paid for my school. After finishing my degree, I got a job in recreation at the University of Maryland College Park and trekked back across the the east coast. After a couple of years, a job opened at UT so I moved back to Austin in 1996 and have been here ever since!

What is your favorite part or being a part of ACA?  ACA was a lifesaver to me when I left my first career in Recreational Sports and began advising in the Department of Economics. For a lot of my time in that department, I was the only advisor and was pretty lonely professionally. ACA was how I made contacts and made new friends and how I learned my job. I got involved with events and was able to learn so much about the academic side of the University. 

Here's where we'd like an anecdote about a favorite ACA memory or a memory that includes another ACA member. One thing you should know about me is that I have a terrible memory. I rely on my friends and colleagues to be my memory and to remind me of all the stories…but, as I reflect back on my years in ACA I think about all the people who have passed through our membership. Friends that have retired, moved on and of course all the friends that remain. Sometimes I wonder what they are doing now and where they are…

What advice would you give to new advisors or new staff members at UT? First, I would say enjoy the moment! The hard work of advising students day after day can be so draining but you just never know the impact you are having on someone. I remember one student who was older than average and who needed to meet outside of normal work hours because he worked full time. I met with him early or stayed late to help him get finished with his ECO degree. When he graduated, he sent me a giant bouquet of flowers. As it turns out he is the CEO of the University Federal Credit Union and I never knew it! He remains very supportive of ACA because he personally benefitted from advising. Secondly, don't be afraid to connect and to get involved – join committees, get a mentor, invite someone to lunch, sit with new people at meetings. Lastly, use your friends and colleagues to learn about new opportunities to advance your career. ACA is your network – use it to your advantage!

What legacy would you like to leave behind at UT? I guess I would like to think that I have made a difference in the lives of some students and some professionals when I finally leave UT. My work in the Women in Engineering Program is the most special for me as I feel like we are doing work that is truly impactful for transforming engineering culture.

Anything else you want to tell us?  I have loved my time at UT and being a part of ACA. I try to be mindful of the specialness of this place and the amazing students that we get to work with, especially on those days that are more challenging than others. I think sometimes about how long I have already been here but how quickly it has gone by. I have learned so much from the many different positions and people that I have worked with over the years and am thankful of the many opportunities that I have had as a result of my involvement with ACA. I look forward to more years and more opportunities!

Monday, December 9, 2013

30 for 30 Member Spotlight: Ben Burnett

Hometown – El Paso, TX

College(s) attended – UT, ACC (while on dismissal from UT)

Job title(s) and department(s) past and present – Student Development Specialist, Distance Education Center – Administrative Associate, Distance Education Center – Student Affairs Assistant, Greek Life and Education – Academic Advisor II, TIP - Sr. Academic Advisor, TIP/College of Liberal Arts – Program Coordinator, College of Liberal Arts

How did you end up at UT in the first place? I attended UT as an undergraduate, it's the best state school. Didn't have the best of times as an undergraduate and decided to try to change some of the things I had issues with.

What is your favorite part or being a part of ACA?  Honestly, its the camaraderie. Learning about all the wonderful programs and events offered to the students and meeting my talented colleagues around campus.

Here's where we'd like an anecdote about a favorite ACA memory or a memory that includes another ACA member. J.P. Regalado! There are too many great memories involving J.P. But J.P.and all he has done would be my favorite memories of ACA.

What advice would you give to new advisors or new staff members at UT? Ask a lot of questions. UT has its own language and way of doing things. It takes time to understand.

What legacy would you like to leave behind at UT? The UTurn program. Really, anything that provides support to students who find themselves struggling academically.

Anything else you want to tell us?  Only that I have spent more than half my life affiliated with UT either as a student or an employee.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

30 for 30 Member Spotlight: David Spight

Hometown: Highlands Ranch, Colorado

College(s) attended: Truman State University (undergrad); University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (masters); and currently enrolled at the University of Alabama (for Ed.D.).

Job Title(s) and Department(s): Present - Assistant Dean, School of Undergraduate Studies; Previously - Academic Advisor III, TrAC-Natural Sciences; Academic Advisor II, TrAC and Dean's Scholars-Natural Sciences; Academic Advisor I, TrAC-Natural Sciences; Academic Advisor, Center for Advising and Student Achievement, Colorado State University

How did I end up at UT in the first place: My girlfriend (now fiancee) wanted to go to grad school at UT (she's from San Antonio) so I moved here from Colorado.

What is my favorite part of being a part of ACA: the advisors - there are some genuine, amazing, student-focused professionals in this org.

Favorite ACA memory: Naming one of the Student Development Scholarships for Joy Lock and presenting the honor to her.

What advice would I give to new advisors: Engage in your profession - if you aren't engaging in your profession, why are you doing it? Not to mention, if we want students to engage in their profession - that of being a student - then shouldn't we model the same behavior? And, by being engaged, you'll be a better advisor, with more knowledge and tools at your disposal when you are advising students. Also, be OK with disagreement. When someone disagrees with you on the job, it isn't about you as a person, so don't take it as a personal attack. Diversity of ideas and opinions only make us as an association better.

What legacy would you like to leave behind: I don't really have an answer for that question. I'm not one that is too worried about leaving a legacy...hopefully along the way I made a positive difference in the lives of students and in the lives of some of the advisors who have the unfortunate opportunity to work for me.

Anything else you want to tell us: Simply, to all of the individuals who spend each day advising the students on this campus, thank you.

Monday, December 2, 2013

30 for 30 Member Spotlight: Jo Anne Huber

From the ACA Facebook page: NACADA 2010 
Spotlight on Jo Anne Huber!

I especially love this spotlight because Jo Anne reminded me how important it is to stand up and be involved in ACA leadership through committees and officerships.

Hometown Beaumont, TX

College(s) attended  Lamar University

Job title(s) and department(s) past and present
Academic Advising Coordinator/Dept. of GOV Formerly, Dean's Office Liberal Arts and Undergraduate Advising Center 

How did you end up at UT in the first place?
Relocated to Austin as husband changed jobs 

What is your favorite part or being a part of ACA?  Networking with other campus advisors and sharing of information

Here's where we'd like an anecdote about a favorite ACA memory or a memory that includes another ACA member.  Vividly recall the meeting years ago when Char Dison, a founding member and co-first president, gave the speech to ACA to encourage members to run for office.  Also, the 25th Anniversary Celebration with Dr. James Vick present who was so instrumental in the formation of ACA. 

What advice would you give to new advisors or new staff members at UT?
Be actively involved in professional development opportunities here on campus and in our affiliation with the National Academic Advising Association.  

What legacy would you like to leave behind at UT? That a person from Southeast Texas can come to this campus and thrive in the environment.  I had several opportunities to do so within ACA and many wonderful ones with NACADA, proudly serving as the first president from the state of Texas!

Anything else you want to tell us?  Work together, always keeping our students first and foremost! 

Friday, November 22, 2013

30 for 30 Member Spotlight: Nathan Vickers

Swiped from the ACA Facebook page.  Nathan is the one on the left.
Spotlight on Nathan Vickers

Hometown: Born in Tulsa, OK but raised in Borger, TX

College(s) attended:
Frank Phillips College in Borger, TX

BA, major in English from The University of Texas at Austin

MS in Academic Advising from Kansas State University

Job title(s) and department(s) past and present: Currently a Senior Academic Advisor for the Department of Government and have been for ten years

How did you end up at UT in the first place?  I was an Orientation Advisor for three summers, and then took a job right out of college as a Cashier for Parking and Transportation.  I did that for nine-months, then worked in the Admissions Office for the Texas Culinary Academy of a year before ending up in the Department of Government.

What is your favorite part or being a part of ACA?:  The camaraderie and friendships, as well as the opportunity to continually network with other advisors, administrators, and student affairs professionals from across campus.  

Here's where we'd like an anecdote about a favorite ACA memory or a memory that includes another ACA member.  This is a tough one.  I've had some awesome times, but I would have to say that my favorite memory is my most recent:  being able to serve ACA as President.  It was such an honor to be able to do this, and I am so incredibly grateful to have had this opportunity.

What advice would you give to new advisors or new staff members at UT?  Get involved in ACA or with your college/department.  Also, don't be afraid to ask questions of folks who have been around awhile.

What legacy would you like to leave behind at UT?  Another tough one to answer, but I would like to think that the legacy I leave behind at UT is that of someone who truly enjoyed working with students.  I love what I do, and working with students is an absolute passion of mine.  That is what I'd hope to be remembered for.

Anything else you want to tell us?  I will openly admit that I am a great big nerd.  :-)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

ACA FUNdraising Pot Luck

On Wednesday, November 20th, 2013 a group of ACAers gathered in GDC 2.104 to eat, visit, and share stories about what we are thankful for.

Here are a bunch of pictures of the group eating and chatting.
There was a lot of eating and talking. 

Sharing news and swapping stories

More eating and talking

Mostly about the food--it was so good!

And the food!  I ate and then remembered to take pictures so the deviled egg plate is already bare.  

Emily, one of the FUNdraising committee co-chairs, encouraged members to share what they are thankful for and to talk about holiday plans.  

A lot of laugher resulted from our stories

And some hugs

A great time was had by all!  

ACA November 2013 General Meeting

The meeting was held on a blustery morning in the Santa Rita Room in the Texas Union.  The meeting was sponsored by ACA.

As always, full meeting minutes can be found on the ACA website:

Note from the Historian: The light in the room was lovely and soothing during the meeting but the pictures turned out a bit on the shadowy and blurry side.  Please excuse my lack of photography skills!

Coffee and danishes to help ward off the chill.


Smiling ACAers are happy to be out of the cold

Catching up with coworkers

Rob welcomed us and this time I took a picture of it!

Matthew introducing our first speaker

Erika Frahm talked to us about Staff Council 

Emily Watson and Erin Thomas provided us with great information about Bridging Disciplines Program

More great info about BDP

Dr. James Henson provided us with a sneak peak of what the online GOV 310L courses look like.

Justin Brady, Alanna Bitzel, and Beth Andre from the PDD committee telling us about the call for proposals.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Committee Chair Spotlight: Professional Development Day Co-Chairs Justin Brady and Alanna Bitzel

       Professional Development Day Co-Chairs
           Justin Brady and Alanna Bitzel


Alanna Bitzel, Academic Counselor – Reading and Writing Programs, Intercollegiate Athletics – Football
Justin Matthew Brady, Senior Academic Advisor, School of Nursing

What committee are you chairing? 

A: I am co-chairing Professional Development Day with the wonderful and well-coiffed Justin Brady from ACA, and from APSA, the lovely Beth Andre and Melissa Wommack.

J: I serve as the co-chair for the Professional Development Day committee, along with the fabulous Alanna Bitzel! We plan the annual ACA/APSA Professional Development Day conference, along with two wonderful co-chairs from APSA.

Why did you want to chair this particular committee?
A: I began working as an Academic Counselor for Football in 2011.  As a new advisor, I have greatly benefited from my involvement in ACA and my interactions with fellow advisors on campus. I wanted to help facilitate a positive learning experience for ACA and APSA members and create an opportunity for members to network with each other.

Justin: I believe that engaging in professional development is crucial to the work and advancement of staff, and I believe that staff at UT-Austin are doing fantastic things! Serving as the co-chair provides me with an opportunity to help encourage and foster professional development among our colleagues. I had the opportunity to serve as the co-chair for the 2011 PDD as a representative from APSA. Being new to ACA, this provides a fun and meaningful way for me to plug in to the advising community.

Why do you think this committee is important to ACA and/or the university?

A: Professional development is important for new and veteran advising professionals. We can always learn something from each other, and PDD creates a supportive time and space for exchanging ideas and best practices and connecting with professionals on campus and beyond.

J: We can certainly learn a lot from what our colleagues in academic advising and student affairs are doing around campus, and Professional Development Day provides an opportunity for us to share with each other, and network with each other. With the high costs associated with attending national and regional conferences and the budget challenges that each unit faces, PDD provides a unique and cost-efficient way for staff to engage in professional development.

What is one thing that you would like the membership to do to support your mission this year? 

A: I want to encourage members to submit proposals to present at PDD and to, of course, attend PDD in February!

J: If by one thing, you mean two, here are my TWO things I'd like the membership to do to support our mission.
  1. Submit a proposal to present at PDD! Think about the fantastic things you are doing in your office, and/or things that you've learned through other conferences, and consider writing a proposal. We have so much to learn from each other!
  2. Network with and get to know the colleagues in ACA and APSA during the conference! There are really remarkable people who work at UT-Austin, and PDD provides you with the opportunity to branch out of your C/S/U. The more we get to know each other, the better we can collaborate and help make this campus even more wonderful!
Is there anything else you want us to know? 
A: In addition to serving as an academic advisor for student athletes, I oversee the in-house writing center for Football.

J: I transitioned into my Advising role a little over six months ago, after spending 3 1/2 wonderful years with the UT Leadership and Ethics Institute (LEI) in the Office of the Dean of Students. Having been on the Student Affairs side, I've had the privilege to work with truly fantastic colleagues all over this campus, and I've been so pleased with the warm welcome I've received in the Advising community.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

30 for 30 Member Spotlight: Lovelys Powell

From Advising Expo 1995
I know that Lovelys has inspired me in the past year that I've been an advisor and an ACA member not only as a friendly face but also as one of the organizers of the ACA Mentors program and a fellow committee member.  I really enjoyed is responses so I hope that all of you out in the membership do, too!  

El Paso, TX (but I was born in N├╝rnberg, Germany and have actually lived in Austin longer than I lived in El Paso). 

College(s) attended: 
The University of Texas at Austin (BA in Government & Sociology);  Texas State University (MA in Sociology)

Job title(s) and department(s) past and present:
  • Admissions Counselor I in the UT Office of Admissions
  • Student Development Specialist II in the UT Undergraduate Advising Center
  • Student Affairs Administrator (Gateway Program and ACE Program) in the Office of the Dean of Students
  • Academic Advisor II in the College of Education
  • Academic Advising Coordinator in the McCombs BBA Program Office  

How did you end up at UT in the first place?
I came to UT as a freshman (started in Engineering, but quickly switched to Liberal Arts at Summer Orientation). After my junior year I was hired as a Summer Orientation Advisor and that experience completely changed my life.  I got hired on at the Office of the Dean of Students to be a FIRST Base (Freshman Issues and Resource Service Team) student coordinator and being surrounded by all the staff in DOS made me sure I belonged in higher education.

What is your favorite part or being a part of ACA?
Being in an organization of professionals who share similar experiences and have a common motivation to elevate the knowledge and skills of its members is critical to improving the experience of students on our campus. Ultimately, everything we do has the potential of positively impacting our student body.  We provide support for each other in a way that the university as a whole cannot.  Plus, at any moment we have the opportunity to greet a new member into our professional, which feels a lot like when we advise students at summer orientation…everything is still possible.   That offers an amazing sense of optimism and motivation to continuously strive to do better.

Here's where we'd like an anecdote about a favorite ACA memory or a memory that includes another ACA member.
I have three favorite memories (and a picture of one of them is attached). 
The first is when I was co-program chair/vice president with Ann Gleason, Liz Hasting, Luci San Miguel Latimer, Susan Smith and Renee LoPilato back in 1994-1995.  It was my first time being an officer in a professional organization, and I was with the best time as a group of advisors to learn from.

The second ACA memory is all of our officer meetings in 2011-2012 when Theresa Thomas was President, along with Yesenia Sanchez, Kristin Tommey, Jennifer Jordan, Jay Guevara, Valeri Nichols-Keller, and Nathan Vickers.  We laughed so much that year and I feel like we worked hard too.

The third ACA memory that stands out was back in 2008 when Patty Micks, Yesenia Sanchez and I were in charge of the philanthropy project for the ACA FUNdraising Committee during the holidays.  The 3 of us got to deliver all the wonderful donations to the Austin Children’s Shelter and to Caritas and the whole time we were laughing (to the point of tears) and doing some good at the same time.

I guess the common theme is laughing your way through the good times and challenging times.   

What advice would you give to new advisors or new staff members at UT?
You should give back as much as you take.  It is easy to go through our careers without understanding the hard work of people who have created opportunities that we just take for granted. Learning our history and then figuring out how each of us can honor our history by giving back is one of the best ways to honor the past while moving forward towards a better future.
Additionally, we are in a profession where we will make mistakes.  Our ever changing systems are too complex to have a career where we haven’t made mistakes.  The true key for success is figuring out how we will react and take action once a mistake has been made.

What legacy would you like to leave behind at UT? 
That the people who invested time and energy to nurture me both as a student and a professional feel that they made a good investment.  And that random people in the world who I had the opportunity to work with as their advisor, peer, supervisor, student, or colleague know that during their time at UT someone cared about their experience. 

Anything else you want to tell us?  
I love movies (no horror or violence please; A Room With A View, Cinema Paradiso, The Color Purple, and Like Water For Chocolate are my favorites), Beyonce, TV (Scandal, Modern Family, The Good Wife, The Talk, & Fashion Police),  good food (as long as there are no traces that what I’m eating was ever an animal), and my co-workers (from all my jobs).

Thursday, October 24, 2013

30 for 30 Member Spotlight: Cynthia Gladstone

Member Spotlight: Cynthia Gladstone

I know Cynthia because she was the ACA historian who handed over the blog and the files to me this year.  She has been a delight to work with and is part of the inspiration for the 30 for 30 project so it is only fitting that she is one of the first members featured.  Enjoy! 

Hometown: El Paso, Texas.
College(s) attended: I have three degrees from UT Austin (B.A. in Government and M.A. and Ph.D. In History), so I bleed orange, but I have also taken course work at UTEP in El Paso, and I did study abroad at the University of London, as it was called then.

Job title(s) and department(s) past and present:
I am a Senior Academic Advisor.  I currently advise for Latin American Studies, Jewish Studies, and Linguistics, and I have also advised in the past for European Studies and History.

How did you end up at UT in the first place? 
I came to college here and pretty much never left.  Well, I left for a while, but came back and THEN never left again.  

What is your favorite part of being a part of ACA?  I
t's a predictable answer, I'm sure, but it's wonderful getting to know advisors from other parts of campus.  It's easy to stay in my little major/college cocoon, and ACA gives me the opportunity to break out of that and form different kinds of connections.  I just finished a year as ACA Historian, and I'm currently on the Awards and Recognition Committee, and I just love the people I have gotten to know in both capacities.  

Here's where we'd like an anecdote about a favorite ACA memory or a memory that includes another ACA member.  Hanging with the awesome Exec Committee last year.  Super fun, smart, accomplished people!

What advice would you give to new advisors or new staff members at UT?  
Be patient with and kind to yourself.  There is a lot to know here, and no one can learn it all in a day.  It'll come, and it never stops coming.  I'm always learning something new.

What legacy would you like to leave behind at UT?  

Good question.  I guess I'd like to feel like I made a difference in my students' lives.  Sounds kind of grandiose, but isn't that what we strive for?

Anything else you want to tell us?  Sure.  Hook 'Em Horns!  (We just beat OU!)  

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

ACA October 2013 General Meeting

The October meeting took place on Wednesday, 10/16/2013 in the SAC Ballroom and was sponsored by McCombs School of Business.

To read the official minutes from this or other ACA meetings, please visit the ACA website:

Mary Lou Poloskey from the Business Foundations Program setting up before the meeting. 

ACA Officers preparing before the meeting.  Look, there's Rob! 

Meeting prep

ACA Members enjoying the delicious spread of breakfast goodies. 

Incoming ACA President Rob Poynor gave his welcome which was so moving that I forgot to take pictures of him speaking.  He looked fantastic though!

McCombs has a great new website to help direct students who are not business majors but are looking for opportunities to take business courses.

Next up was Katie Stephens who spoke to us about the Master of Science in Finance.  Students pursuing this degree are primarily non-business majors that are "pretty good at math."

Katie doesn't look like the wet weather is affecting her at all! 

Kari Ledezma spoke about the Masters in Professional Accounting (Not Public Accounting!) The MPA Degree does not require amy work experience and about half of their students have non-accounting undergraduate degrees.  Students who do not come from business backgrounds typically have to take some prerequisite coursework before beginning the program. 

Kari helping to dispel misconceptions about the MPA degree. 

Next up was Hillary Patterson providing information about the new MSIROM: Business Analytics program.  The program is STEM certified and is ideal for students with excellent quantitative skills. Information sessions are being held and custom information sessions are available.

Hillary Patterson
Scott Good spoke about the Masters of Science in Technology Commercialization.  His talk was also so captivating that I forgot to take a picture.  His student population is widely varied and the program is appealing to those students who have an entrepreneurial spirit.

Next up were Dr. JJ Riekenberg and Mary Lou Poloskey who touched briefly on the Business Foundations Program.  New this year is a health focus to two of the four summer intensive workshop cohorts.

Rachel Allen spoke about the undergraduate Real Estate certificate program and reviewed the coursework including prerequisites and recommended prerequisites to apply to the program.
Rachel Allen speaking about the undergraduate Real Estate Certificate program.  

Last but not least, John Bulter from the undergraduate Energy Management Program gave an overview of the program including a bit of history.  
John Butler "2"