Wednesday, April 2, 2014

30 for 30 Member Spotlight: Nancy Sutherland

My home town is Dallas, specifically Southwest Oak Cliff and Kimball High School.  My parents both worked (Dallas Transit and DISD).  My older brother earned BBA and MBA from SMU.  

I knew what I was going to major in early on . . . Elementary Education and History.  I considered attending Texas because of the outstanding Education program and, back then, I would have been automatically admitted.  Since I didn’t have any friends going here, I stayed at home my freshman year and attended Mountain View College, took 20 hours a semester and played on the District Champion Tennis team, sang in choir, and played piano for the children’s church services.  After a visit with my two best friends in College Station, I decided to attend A&M for my sophomore year.  It had nothing to do with the fact that it was 85% male at the time.  It was smaller than it is now and they had just put a lot of money into expanding their College of Education.  It turned out to be just what I needed, a great place to learn, small classes, and friendly folks.  My student teaching was with 4th and 5th graders in Spring, Texas.  I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Education, Curriculum, and Instruction with a Lifetime Texas Teaching Certificate, Elementary grades 1-8, and History.  

How I got into advising:
The summer after I graduated, I was coordinating A&M tennis camp and met my future husband, Leroy Sutherland.  He was academic counselor and dorm manager for Men’s Athletics at Texas A&M.   In the first five minutes, we got in an argument about check-in procedures.  We were married 6 months later and I moved into the men’s athletic dorm at A&M.  For 3 years, I was “dorm mother”.  It was an amazing learning experience for me to observe Leroy, an expert academic and life skills advisor, on a daily basis.  Student-athletes would stop in his office -- just down the hall--or our apartment at all hours, 24 hours/7 days a week, year round advising.   We were all in a fish bowl.  I felt like I had 200 big and little brothers.  My husband spent 30 years in college athletics — which means I did, too.  7 years at A&M, 18 crazy, memorable months at the University of Memphis, and at UT from 1986-2008.  It has been rewarding to help thousands of student-athletes over the years and they still call the house from time to time.  

UT Advising
When we came here in 1986, I started out as a UTemp doing calligraphy for the President’s Office (envelopes and name tags).  Several ACA advisors including Arthur Allert (Business) and Joe Eivens (Athletics and Education) suggested that I look into advising positions.  I was fortunate to get my first job at MEC (testing) as a Student Development Specialist with Mary Castilla where I advised prospective and current students and parents about required and optional testing.  It also gave me added experience working with chairs and faculty advisors in departments and deans offices.  

Fine Arts
My next job at UT was a big step up as the Dean’s Office advisor for the entire College of Fine Arts (faculty advisors were in each department).  I worked directly for Associate Dean Charles Roeckle (who has been honored by ACA for his longtime support of advising).  Shortly after I got there, the degree evaluator went on maternity leave and I had to do both jobs — 144 degree plans, 2000 students,  all by hand — it was a huge learning curve.  I do very much appreciate Dean Roeckle, the staff, and ACA colleagues for patience and daily guidance.  During those 7 years, we hired staff academic advisors in Art, Theatre & Dance, and Music including Rachel Martin (Fine Arts).  We attended ACA meetings and I served as Program Chair one year.  Advising on campus was changing and making a difference for students.  

Liberal Arts and History
As the College of Liberal Arts was adding departmental advisors and a position came up in History in 1995.  Prior to that time, they had a faculty advisor and two part time graduate assistants.  While I love the arts, History is still my favorite subject (yes, I stop for historical markers).  That first year, Cynthia Gladstone (then a graduate assistant advisor, now Dr. Cynthia Gladstone, Academic Advisor, Latin American Studies, Linguistics, and Jewish Studies) helped me transition to departmental duties.  I continued attending ACA and served as Program Chair a second time.   I now work with ACA members Tom Griffith and Thomas Fawcett, and Susan Somers.  We are Advising Team One:  History, Classics, and Philosophy.  I report to Assistant Dean Kim Krieg in Liberal Arts.

Thoughts on ACA:
ACA was only 29 people when I first started attending back in 1987.  I immediately felt welcome and realized that we had an extremely important purpose and vision.  Through ACA, we all have exceptionally-talented colleagues to help us solve our challenges and help us move forward in our careers.   

My mission statement for advising seems silly but it is accurate:    “Be here and know stuff” — that is what the students need, want, and expect.  

UT and ACA have treated me well.   I’m doing OK for a blonde, Aggie from Oak Cliff.      : )   

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