Monday, February 24, 2014

30 for 30 Member Spotlight: Barbara Johnson

Dallas, TX

College(s) attended:
I earned my B.A. In English Literature at Whittier College, a small liberal arts school in Southern California. During my four years there, I served as an orientation week leader, an academic management coach, a writing tutor, and a peer mentor. I'll probably get some flack for this, but I was also the college's homecoming queen my senior year. Yes, we had a homecoming court…like I said, we were a very small school :) 
I really loved helping out my fellow class mates in the various leadership roles I held, so I suppose it's a natural fit that I enjoy advising college students so much! 
After working abroad for nearly two years, I returned to the states to earn my M.A. at NYU. I recently finished my thesis in spring 2013. 

Job title(s) and department(s) past and present:
I'm an Associate Academic Advisor for Journalism majors at the Moody College of Communication. Some of my pals here nicknamed me Bubbles (Thanks Dina and Theresa!); that should probably be part of my job title.
During my time in New York, I worked in education departments of several cultural institutions, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where I assisted with the implementation of public programs and adult education programs. 

How did you end up at UT in the first place?
My fiancĂ©, Thomas,  and I were ready to make the move from Manhattan after I finished my M.A., and we knew Austin was for us. I found the open  advising position, and it was love at first sight. We have family here in Austin and our moms both live in Dallas, so we are happy to be closer to them as a result of the move, too.
I remember when my hiring supervisor called to inform me of his employment decision, we were in the middle of our move, riding along in our giant Uhaul in the middle of nowhere between New York and Austin. I made Thomas pull off the freeway, as I squealed with anticipation, so the call wouldn't disconnect. That's how excited I was to hear back from UT. It's been about eight months since I first started, and I'm still as pumped to be here as when I answered that phone call. 

What is your favorite part or being a part of ACA?  
I love feeling like I'm a part of a community that is working hard to accomplish something larger than the sum of our parts; I definitely feel this with ACA. Being new to the Longhorn family, I value that members of ACA take the time to educate one another so that we advisors may better assist our students. I've already learned so much about campus resources and procedures which has directly assisted me in my day-to-day advising. 

Anything else you want to tell us?  

I am a huge animal lover and adoption advocate. We have three dogs. Two of them were recently adopted from Austin Humane Society, where I was volunteering when they found me. I just love the adoption culture here in Austin and am so grateful that we are a no-kill city.

Friday, February 21, 2014

30 for 30 Member Spotlight: Liz Hastings

Hometown:  Laredo, Texas

Colleges attended:  Laredo Jr. College and The University of Texas at Austin

Ended up at UT:  Transferred to UT as an undergraduate

Work experience at UT:

I have only ever worked at UT!  I worked in Admissions for 16 years in various capacities (Transcript Evaluator, Admission Counselor, Coordinator of the SHARE Program, and Coordinator of the Junior/Community College (J/CC) Program). For several years, I traveled for UT recruiting high ability and underrepresented students.  That was a great first job.  I even shared a pool table in a student center w/Jo Anne Huber when both of us were in Admissions.  I’ve known that gal for a very long time!

After Admissions, I got a position in the Student Division of the College of Liberal Arts supervising the Advisors:  Cindy Bippert, Gail Stubbs and Susan Calder.  That was it!  Only 4 advisiors in the Student Division!

Thirteen years ago I move to the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the request of Dean at the time, Richard Lariviere.  He needed someone to set up an advising office in our department.  And, as they say, the rest is history!

Memories about ACA:
I joined ACA while I was still in the Office of Admission and coordinating the J/CC Program.  That was and exciting time because ACA was relatively young and we were “unnoticed”.   I remember the creation of the first Provost Council of Academic Advising which had advisors as members and the Provost actually asking for our input on various issues.

I have 3 special memories: 
The first one:  I think I have to echo Lovely’s favorite memory:  The year I served as the secretary for ACA w/Lovelys and Luci SanMiguel Lattimer and a few other advisors who were no longer here.  We had so much fun!  That might have been the first or second year for our Advising Expo!

The third:  During the time that I was ACA president-elect and chair of the ACA Advisory Council, we responded as an organization to the Report of the Task Force on Enrollment Strategy.  We produced a document with commentary and suggestions after meticulous review and lengthy animated discussions over each point in the report.  Our document was delivered to then UT President Faulkner, Prof. Isabella Cunningham, Chair of the Task Force and Dr. Charles Roeckle, Deputy to the UT President (and friend of ACA).  ACA received very positive press by doing this and gained ground as a viable professional organization on the UT Campus.

The third:  The year I was president of ACA,  2004-2005.  ACA celebrated our 25th Anniversary!  Many advisors contributed memories and photographs.  We honored Dr. Vick for supporting and promoting ACA.  I still have the slide show if you are interested in viewing!

Advice to new advisors or staff:
Don’t forget that there is a wealth of knowledge in our ranks.  I could not have survived my first couple of years without the wisdom and support of Alice Andrews, Char Dison, Sue Holtzaepfel, Elaine Declerck and Alice Fisher. 

I wish to be remembered as someone who worked hard and advocated for students, for my department/college and for ACA.  I love my work and the students who I have known over the years.  I have had a couple of students come back 20 years after their graduation and thank me for “being there”.  That says it all!

More about me:

I celebrated my 35th anniversary working at UT in November.  I am an avid reader and I love to fish!  My father taught me to whistle when I was a in high school.  Keeping the tradition alive, I have taught all my nephews and nieces (14 of them) to whistle too! I am a mother to two college students, two brother (Max) and sister  (Mollie) cats, and a grandmother to a teenage Rodesian Ridgeback named Star.  Joseph, my husband, and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary on January 21, 2014.

Monday, February 17, 2014

30 for 30 Member Spotlight: Mandy Davidson

Hometown: Born in Dubai, started moving at age 5, lived in several countries (oil company brat) so my true adopted hometown is really Austin.

College(s) attended: UT Austin (BA Government), Texas State (paralegal certificate), St. Edward's (current MA in counseling)

Job title(s) and department(s) past and present: Several since 2001 (I am comfortable with change ;)) but some highlights are Legal Assistant in UT System's Office of General Counsel,  Administrative Associate in the Office of the President and Dean of Students Office, and Academic Advisor at Mccombs School of Business and School of Architecture.

How did you end up at UT in the first place? UT was last on my list of colleges (I was 17 and didn't know better) and I am forever grateful that I was able to come here for school. I never really left, except for a brief period at UT System downtown.

What is your favorite part or being a part of ACA?  I love the strong sense of community and support we offer each other. ACA energizes me to be the best professional I can be.

Here's where we'd like an anecdote about a favorite ACA memory or a memory that includes another ACA member.
   I was always curious about ACA and always had great interactions with advisors in my previous roles, so I attended an ACA Professional Development Day to see what ACA was like. LOVED it. I also adore Lovelys Powell (who doesn't?!) and hearing his enthusiasm for his job and ACA Involvement also influenced me towards exploring academic advising and ACA. 

What advice would you give to new advisors or new staff members at UT?
UT is a very large, very siloed institution so I would advise any new staff member to join a community to make UT a smaller, more intimate place to be. I would encourage every advisor to join ACA, not only for the support and professional development, but to learn to advocate for themselves and their profession, because advising is integral to student success and we need to ensure that faculty, staff, and the administration are always aware of that. 

What legacy would you like to leave behind at UT? 
I hope to be remembered as someone who gave 110% to her department and students, and mainly I hope that each student I interacted with, from my student org support days to advising, felt supported both academically and emotionally. Sometimes people just need to know that you care about each part of who they are, not just their grades and org membership, and I hope I created a safe space for each student to just be themselves.

Anything else you want to tell us?  
 I am going to miss this group and UT so very much! I leave on 3/7 for full time graduate student life. Advising helped me solidify my skill set and realize I wanted to be a professional counselor, and ACA helped me learn how to be both a competent and compassionate professional. Also, if anyone ever needs therapy, come see me in 1.5 years when I graduate and I'll give you the ACA discount ;)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

30 for 30 Member Spotlight: Theresa Thomas

Hometown:  Austin, Texas

College(s) attended:  UT Austin

Job title(s) and department(s) past and present:  Academic Advising Coordinator, Senior Academic Advisor, Academic Advisor II and Academic Advisor I all in Journalism for the College of Communication, Degree Plan Evaluator I and II and Senior Office Assistant for the College of Education

How did you end up at UT in the first place?:  I was a work study in the College of Education advising office when I was a student here.  A year or so after I graduated, I ran into a former co-worker at Chuck E. Cheese, and she told me that they were hiring an office assistant for the advising office.  Since I didn't want to manage a retail store at the mall for the rest of my life, I applied, and luckily, I got the job!

What is your favorite part or being a part of ACA?  Getting to meet all the diverse and awesome people that work with our students!

Here's where we'd like an anecdote about a favorite ACA memory or a memory that includes another ACA member.  One of my favorite memories includes the Business advisors introducing me to "Under the Schuetz" (Seagrams and ginger ale) at NACADA in Las Vegas!  It's one of my favorite drinks now!  I think this involved Lovelys Powell, Michael Schuetz, Juanita Gonzalez…not sure who else I'm forgetting, but it was a great time! 

What advice would you give to new advisors or new staff members at UT?  Try to make contacts all over campus, in as many offices and departments as you can – it's SO helpful to be able to pick up the phone and call a specific person for help.

What legacy would you like to leave behind at UT? Being able to turn anything into a dirty joke.  But I'm pretty sure I've already accomplished that.

Anything else you want to tell us?  I love the new practice of having ACA happy hours.  Way to go FUNdraising Committee!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

30 for 30 Member Spotlight: Cindy Bippert

I was born in San Marcos, but I lived in Panama and Delaware prior to my father’s retirement from the Air Force.  We moved to San Antonio when I was in third grade and I still have family there.  

College(s) attended
I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I graduated from high school so I attended San Antonio College for a few semesters before transferring to the University of Texas at San Antonio, where I received a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and English.  I started a master’s program in counseling at Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State) and quickly decided that was not the right career path for me, so I transferred to UT and completed the master’s program in Higher Education Administration in 1998. 

Job title(s) and department(s) past and present
My first job at UT was in the College of Liberal Arts Dean’s Office (1990).  I was a degree plan evaluator which means I evaluated degree progress by hand (no computers or degree audits existed then) and determined when students were eligible to graduate.  I met with students to discuss their remaining requirements and processed their graduation applications.  A lot of the work was clerical in nature, however it was an incredible experience because I learned about all the degree requirements and it helped me discover my passion for working with college students.  A year later I became a Student Development Specialist in the same office, and worked with undeclared students, new student orientation, study abroad initiatives, and other programs like the Provisional Admission Program.  Six and a half years later I became an advisor in the Mathematics, Physics, & Astronomy Advising Center in the College of Natural Sciences.  I was hired in the McCombs School of Business as an advisor/peer advisor program coordinator in 1999, and have been here ever since.  I became the Director of Advising in the BBA Program Office several years ago. 

How did you end up at UT in the first place?  My husband’s employer transferred him to Austin in September 1990.  My sister worked in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the time and really enjoyed it, so she encouraged me to apply for a job here. 

What is your favorite part or being a part of ACA?  While I am not as involved in ACA as I used to be, my favorite things about this organization are the amazing friendships you form, the opportunities for professional development, and the strong sense of community that exists.  Some of my dearest friends are people I met in ACA many years ago.   Not only was I able to chair and/or serve on various committees (Professional Development Day and Advising Expo) in my early years in ACA, I held several executive offices (Vice President/Program Co-Chair, Historian), and these experiences had a profound impact on me both personally and professionally. 

Here's where we'd like an anecdote about a favorite ACA memory or a memory that includes another ACA member.  Some of my fondest memories of ACA occurred when Robert Berdahl was president of the University.  I discovered my passion for working with college students, ACA solidified its presence on campus, and advisors established credibility with administrators, faculty and students.  Advising was recognized as a profession, and numerous positions were created at the University.  It was an exciting time to be at UT!

What advice would you give to new advisors or new staff members at UT?  Don’t be afraid to get involved in ACA by serving on a committee or running for an executive office.  The time you devote to this organization will come back to you tenfold, and the skills you acquire will help you throughout your career.

What legacy would you like to leave behind at UT? 

To both the students I advise and the advisors I supervise, I would like to be remembered for offering compassion during a difficult time, listening when it felt like no one cared, and providing support to facilitate personal and professional growth. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

ACA January 2014 General Meeting

The meeting was held on Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 8:15 am in the Glen Maloney Room (SSB G1.310).  The meeting was not sponsored so breakfast tacos and coffee were provided by ACA.

Complete meeting minutes can be found on the ACA Website:

 ACA Executive Board prepping for the meeting.

ACA Members doing what they do best--networking and eating breakfast tacos! 

ACA President Rob Poynor opened the meeting. 

Matt Haynes introduces our first speakers

Jeff Moe and Ben Armstrong from Student Veteran Services gave a great presentation about what services are available and what the unique challenges are for student veterans.  

The ACA Historian's camera ran out of batteries.

Alice Batt from the Undergraduate writing center provided an overview of the services they provide to students as well as the overall philosophy and structure of the center.

A new camera was secured.
Next, Rose Mastrangelo and Dareth Finn from the Archer Fellows Program provided us with information about the program. 

Justin Brady and Beth Andre reminded us about PDD

ACA Membership took a group picture.  Look at all those shiny, happy faces!