Wednesday, November 30, 2016

ACA November Meeting 2016

Provost and Executive Vice President Maurie McInnis provided clarity and guidance the morning following the 2016 Presidential Election. As an historian, Provost McInnis reassured the room that history has proven that we will survive. She called on ACA members to provide counseling and advice for our students left feeling insecure as a result of the election. She also noted that the University is looking at developing a University-wide diversity action plan.

Provost McInnis joins the UT Austin community from The University of Virginia (UVA) where she served in many roles including student, faculty member, associate dean for undergraduate programs, and most recently vice provost. In her address to ACA, Provost McInnis stated her admiration for academic advising. At UVA, faculty act as academic advisors, and even as she moved through leadership roles Provost McInnis insured that she continue advising undergraduate, first-year students because she believes it impacts student success.

Provost McInnis provided a outline of the initatives she will continue over the next year and plans for moving forward.
  • She will continue to focus on increasing the 4 year graduation rate to 70% (2015-2016 graduation rate was 61% University wide). Provost McInnis believes improvement in the four year graduation rate is important for many reasons. It allows students to avoid acquiring more debt, it is benchmark for many employers, and is proof of goal attainment.
  • Provost McInnis plans to reduce the institutional barriers that prevent students from graduating in 4 years. She noted UT Austin's Project 2021 initiative as a step in the right direction - a way to simplify complex degree plans and encourage departments to think hard about curricular decisions. The Provost's Office is also looking to change small rules and exceptions (ex. whether flags should be implemented at the instructor or course level) that can impact progress toward degree completion. Finally, she hinted at a complete change in the course numbering structure and other course rules. There is no timeline in place for course number changes.

Next Up: Health Professions Office with Director Leslie Riley and University Writing Center with Assistant Director Alice Batt

Health Professions Office (HPO), housed in the College of Natural Sciences, serves all UT Austin undergraduate students pursuing pre-medical, pre-dental, pre-pharmacy, pre-veterinary, pre-optometry, pre-physician’s assistant, pre-physical therapy, and pre-occupational therapy programs following graduation. Around 5,000(!) UT Austin students are currently pursuing pre-health a track.

HPO staff help students understand the expectations of pre-health programs and prepare for the admission process. Their services include conversations about pre-requiste coursework, preparation for admission exams, and recommendations regarding co-curricular experiences that can enhance a students' application. With so many students to serve and a small staff size, Leslie recommends that students plan 3 weeks ahead to meet with an HPO coach. If students require immediate assistance, they can meet with a peer advisor or attend group advising sessions.

Fast facts: 1) Health profession graduate programs do not require students to complete their undergraduate program in 4 years. They want students to start graduate programs when they are ready, so a gap year or post-bacclaureate programs are ok. 2) The Pre-Health Professions Certificate helps HPO to track non-CNS enrollment but does not improve a student's chance to get into a graduate program.

Alice reminded ACA members of a recent name change from Undergraduate Writing Center to University Writing Center because the Center can now serve graduate students! The University Writing Center is located in the PCL Learning Commons. With a new space, a new name, and an expanded mission, the Center has noted a 17% increase in student visits.

The UWC employs 150 undergraduate and graduate consultants to provide non-directive and non-evaluative writing instruction to help all students, including ESL students, improve their writing skills. Students may meet with a UWC consultant 3 times per writing assignment. For longer writing projects such as research papers, theses, or dissertations, students may meet with consultants 3 times per chapter. Alice encouraged ACA to think of UWC for in-class presentations including FIG to help students learn more about UWC services.

HPO and UWC have teamed up! Starting this spring semester, UWC will consult with pre-health students applying to graduate programs. In the past, HPO has helped students brainstorm and revise the content of their personal essays. Now UWC will help students with revisions to their written personal statements.

A special thank you to the Health Professions Office for sponsoring the November Meeting.

ACA Updates

Kayla Ford swears in President-Elect Ana Dison
Kayla Ford swears in President-Elect Ana Dison. Congratulations!

**Call for nominations for the NACADA Awards reminder- Due November 30. The process is time intensive so check with someone you’re nominating before you do so. Please contact Tepera Holman or Kayla Ford with any questions

Webb College Prep Academy Volunteer Opportunity on November 12. Check out the rest of the slideshow for details about the service event and to see ACA in action.

  • Fall Goody Bag Drive: The last day to order is Nov 30. Please consider a donation of $1 per goody bag & show a colleague your appreciation.

**Mark your calendars for the ACA/APSA Holiday Party on Thursday, December 8 at 3-5pm in the Legacy Room, CBA 3.202. Join the Holiday Planning Committee for food (including a dessert competition!), games, prizes, holiday music and much more. The formal invite has been sent to the list serve.

**Save the Date for Professional Development Day (PDD) - February 22 at the Commons Learning Center located at the JJ Pickle Campus. Please visit the PDD website for more information about early bird registration specials (ends December 31) and how you can submit a presentation proposal.

So many Kudos! You can find them on our website: ACA KUDOS!

We are bringing back ACA Member Spotlights and doing a spotlight or two during each meeting. This month we met a seasoned pro (Meet Michelle!) and a new face to the advising community (Meet Carter!). If you see them this week, ask about GOT.

We want to continue to spotlight members from across Colleges, across positions, and across lengths of experience at UT Austin. Please consider nominating someone to spotlight.

Next Up: Adjunct Professor Marion Rocco with the School of Information asking you to recommend  INF 322T to students interested in Children's Literature instruction.

INF 322T has been revamped over the past few semesters to make the course more challenging and meaningful for students. With only 100 students in the classroom and a flipped model of instruction, students are encouraged to engage in group discussion and the children's literature used in instruction. The course is open to all undergraduate students regardless of major.

Next Up: Sorority and Fraternity Life (SFL) - Marilyn Russell, Director; Suzy Day, Prevention and Risk Management Specialist; and Jaden Felix, Coordinator

Sorority and Fraternity Life staff joined ACA to discuss SFL through the lens of academic counselors and academic administrators. We started with a quick brainstorm to address the issues in SFL and recognize the positives.

The staff provided an excellent slideshow detailing the history of Sorority and Fraternity life on UT Austin's campus as well as an info guide highlighting affiliated organizations and their governing councils. In short, SFL wants to celebrate the good while also addressing the challenges of sorority and fraternity life. If you have a student concern related to SFL, let the office know.  A culture of change cannot be fostered if campus administrators are unaware of the concerns. You can also report to BCAL and the Campus Climate Response Team.

The staff had a little time for a quick Q&A:

Q: Do you segregate graduation rate stats/data based on family income?

A: They do not have access to that data- it is separated by council and organization.
Q: Do you see cross-council work to learn about each other?
A: In pockets, yes; but it depends on the year and where the particular chapter is in terms of their own organization. There is a leadership course in EDP so they can learn about each other; the all presidents meeting also helps make that synergy and learning about each other. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

October ACA General Meeting

Thanks to the School of Undergraduate Studies for sponsoring the October meeting!

Dean Brett Iverson, Dean of School of Undergraduate Studies kicked off the October meeting to discuss two problems that the UT community is working to solve: 1) choice of major and availability of major, and 2) erosion of the core curriculum.

Problem 1: Choice of Major and Availability

This problem is created because most 18 year olds do not know what they want to study, too many students initially choose from a handful of majors (top five majors: computer engineering, biology, business, computer science, economics), and students choose a major before they have even heard of what UT has to offer.

UGS Fact: 1 major, 1 minor or 1 certificate combo = over 10,900 possibilities

Problem 2: Erosion of the Core Curriculum

UGS was created to protect the core curriculum which in turn was created to provide educational breadth to degree requirements. With the increase of dual credit programs statewide, the state mandate to accept AP scores of 3 or higher, and the 2.5 week intersession courses that transfer as 3 credit hour equivalents, Dean Iverson believes students are left with the impression that the core curriculum is not that important. (ex: The Gutting of Gen Ed, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2015)

UGS Fact: 40% of core hours were completed non-residence by 2016 FTIC grads (transfer students not included); 18% credit-by-exam, 21% transfer courses

According to Dean Iverson, UT is addressing these problems with the help of Undergraduate Studies. The signature courses, curriculum reform with the core curriculum flags (2752 different courses have flags), unique programs such as the Discovery Scholars Program and the Bridging Disciplines Program, and the Vick Center for Strategic Advising and Career Counseling are all ways of helping students to find their path and maintain the integrity of general education requirements.

Dean Iverson thanked the Undergraduate Studies staff for their hard work and asked ACA to continue to refer students to utilize these excellent resources.

UTeach Urban Teachers (UTUT) - Alina Pruitt & Tiye Cort, Doctoral students with the College of Education in Language and Literacy Studies

UT Urban Teachers is a Texas teacher certification program for UT undergraduate and graduate students focusing on the skill-set needed to help English and social studies educators thrive in the context of urban classrooms, grades 7-12. Please enjoy this awesome video about the program:

Alina and Tiye invited an undergraduate and graduate student to discuss their experience:
Alex Felan
  • Alex Felan, a senior history major with the undergraduate certification program, saw UTeach Urban Teachers as a way to get involved and found that the program fulfilled a call to service. At age 41 and a transfer student, Alex felt that the program provided new perspectives on education. He asked ACA to recommend UTUT to other transfer students who might not know that a program like his one exists. 
  • Kent Coupe
  • Kent CoupĂ©, a graduate student seeking a M. Ed with secondary certification in social studies, sought out the program because it marries theory and classroom practice. He taught briefly in an urban classroom before enrolling in the UTUT program. He discovered a passion for instruction, but his experience in the classroom revealed a need for a deeper understanding of theory.
The ROAD Committee held an event with UTeach Urban Teachers called ROAD to Urban Schools: Preparing Teachers for Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Communities on Thursday, October 13.

ACA Updates:

Congratulations, Ana!
Anne Pugh, ACA Secretary: Presented a special election for the open President-Elect ACA executive board position. Ana Dison ran unopposed and after an excellent speech was confirmed as President-Elect of ACA for the 2016-2017 year. 

Josh Barham: A request on behalf of the ROAD Committee to please respond to ROAD survey with your ideas for professional development events: respond here.

Tepera Holman: ACA Awards and Recognition Committee is working on NACADA awards for Spring 2017. Please look for an e-mail from the committee and think about who you may like to nominate.

Thank you for sharing, Lovelys!
Lovelys Powell: Provided a brief but spectacular story about how the ACA Argosy was named. Lovelys once lived in an apartment complex called The Argosy, which means a grand ship traveling through the ocean. It was his fellow ACA historian that suggested ACA name their new newsletter The Argosy to represent the role of advising professionals on campus.

Vicki Packheiser, Clinical Associate Professor, School of Social Work, “From Surviving to Thriving: Developing Professional Resilience in Challenging Times”

Vicki provided three tools/tricks for all of us to develop a greater sense of professional resilience.
  1. Claim the day to prevent “work trance”
    • Vicki's tip: Within 2 minutes of arriving at work, do something that connects you to why it is that you do this work (ex. a picture or a motto). This will allow you to be more focused.
  2. Use your legacy as a compass 
    • Vicki's Tip: Ask yourself "what do you want your gift to this University to be?" and use this as a guiding principle. This aim will allow you to notice gradual progress toward your overarching work goals.
  3. Practice positivity
    • Vicki's Tip: Random acts of kindness, gratitude letters, and visits with coworkers are all excellent ways to practice positivity in your work life. It is possible to set aside 10-15 minutes most days to learn something about professional resilience. Consider conducting independent  research about time management, stress management, etc. and share it with others in your office or ACA!

So many Kudos! You can find them on our website: ACA KUDOS!

We are bringing back ACA Member Spotlights and doing a spotlight or two during each meeting. This month we met a seasoned advising pro (Meet Shirley!).

We want to continue to spotlight members from across Colleges, across positions, and across lengths of experience at UT Austin. Please consider nominating someone to spotlight.

Next Meeting: Wednesday, November 9