NATCHITOCHES – LeahAnn Young, assistant professor in Northwestern State University’s College of Nursing, and Scott Burrell, coordinator of Theatre and Dance in the School of Creative and Performing Arts, are the 2017 recipients of Northwestern State University’s Faculty Excellence in Academic Advising Awards. The award, presented by the university’s Academic Advising Services office, recognizes faculty for their mentorship and commitment to student success. Criteria include knowledge, helpfulness and accessibility.
“Now more than ever, faculty advisors will continue to advise our students across several time zones,” said Steve Hicks, executive director of NSU’s Academic Advising Services. “One student noted her advisor coordinated phone calls during her advising sessions that had a 10-12 hour time difference.”
“To say Ms. Young went above and beyond would be a drastic understatement,” wrote the student in a nomination form. “If not for her, I don’t know if I would be here today. My advisor was more than willing to do some visits via phone, but most of our communication was over e-mail. And she responded to all of my questions immediately, which was crucial given the time difference, half way around the world.”
Hicks said that in addition to non-traditional distance-advising, NSU faculty also work with traditional advising with entering freshmen.
“A traditional entering freshman, who now just finished her sophomore year stated, ‘Throughout these first two years of college my advisor has been more than simply an advisor for me. He has helped me with my academics as well as my growth as a person. It has been so nice to find a family here at NSU and he has been a huge part of that,’” Hicks said.
The Advisor Award selection committee requested all nominated faculty advisors provide a short personal philosophy of their advising. Here are a couple segments/clips of their advising philosophies.
Young’s philosophy is, “You have my undivided attention; what can I do for you? And then I listen. After that, all I try to do is guide and empower the student.”
Burrell said that he witnesses change through the student’s academic journey.
“With a little nudge here, a small adjustment there, the student begins to become more sure-footed and the role of the advisor changes,” Burrell said. “Sure, there are still questions about curriculum, which classes to take, etc. But decisions now are made about goals, career choices and philosophies, big canvas stuff. More often than not, I’m there to encourage, to give the ‘voiced permission’ the student needs to risk and fail. And sometimes, if I’m lucky, I’m there to inspire. This solidifies my choice of being an educator.”
Academic Advising at NSU is regarded as an extension of the teaching function and is an important responsibility of faculty. NSU’s professional team of advisors works closely with departmental faculty advisors and academic departments to help NSU students achieve their academic and professional goals.
This marks the 15th year that NSU had honored dedicated faculty with Academic Advising Awards.