Brethold, McGill Presented Outstanding Academic Advisor Awards

Southeast Missouri State University presented Outstanding Academic Advisor Awards to Jessica Brethold and Dr. Jim McGill during its Excellence in Advising Celebration and Award Ceremony April 5 in Kem Statuary Hall in the Aleen Vogel Wehking Alumni Center.

The Outstanding Academic Advisor Awards, presented for the first time this year, celebrate the efforts of a faculty member and a professional advisor who hold the Master Advisor designation at Southeast and who serve as academic advisors to students with ongoing academic advising responsibilities and currently assigned advisees.

“Seeing the nominees for this award is both humbling and inspiring, as the list is filled with the names of faculty and staff members I respect so very highly,” said McGill, professor of chemistry and interim director of Southeast’s Jane Stephens Honors Program. “To be listed among them and recognized for my efforts to help my students succeed is an honor and a privilege.”

“Advising and mentoring students is a passion of mine, and I feel so fortunate to have been equipped by the Master Advisor Program to do a better job for my advisees,” he said. “This recognition from the Master Advisor Program would not have been possible if not for the outstanding training and development opportunities I have been afforded through the commitment of Carol Heisserer, Amanda Eller, Provost Karl Kunkel and so many others.”

Brethold, academic advisor for Southeast’s College of Liberal Arts, expressed similar sentiments.

“Working with students, I’ve always wanted to help them more and share with them my own experiences,” she said. “I’m very thankful to be a part of this program, and it is an honor to be recognized by my students and the University.”

Dr. Karl Kunkel, Southeast provost, presented remarks at the awards ceremony. He said academic advising is at the heart of successful institutional efforts to educate and retain students.

“I am very proud and impressed that so many faculty and staff are participating in the Master Advisor Program,” Kunkel said.  “The relationship between a student and their advisor is crucial for student success, and many higher education institutions provide very little, if any, professional development focusing on the advising role.  Southeast offering this high-quality program and the number of faculty and staff seeking Master Advisor certification is a strong testament for our institutional dedication to supporting student retention, persistence and graduation.”

Nominations were accepted through Dec. 1 from all students, faculty and staff. The recipients were chosen from 27 nominees. Among them were faculty advisors Mary Elizabeth Ambery, William Bratberg, Michelle Brune, Emily Denlinger, Ann Graham, Jeremy Griffin, Shawn Guiling, Laura Hatcher, Debbie Lee-DiStefano, Dr. Jim McGill, Kevin McMeel, Belinda McMurry, Quantella Noto, Carole Pfeiffer, Emmanuel Thompson, Julie Weathers and Roseanna Whitlow-Greenwood. Also nominated were professional advisors Jessica Brethold, Pauletta Burns, Mishea Culbreath, Tina Hotop, Dr. Kim Madigan, Leah Michel, Jean Miller, Karie Stroder, Andrea Thompson and Brenda White.

Nominees were asked to complete an application packet describing their knowledge of academic information, resources, majors and career-related information and use of that knowledge in assisting students. Nominees also were asked to detail their accessibility to students, how they make academic advising a priority and how they use innovative advising techniques, advising materials and systems. Also considered were their efforts to create positive relationships with students, their personal philosophy on advising, their development of advising materials, and recommendation letters from students, colleagues, supervisors, department heads and alumni.

Recipients were selected by a committee of staff members designated by the Office of the Provost. Brethold and McGill are now automatically nominated for the National Academic Advising Association’s (NACADA) Outstanding Advising Award.

Carol Heisserer, director of Academic Advising at Southeast, said, “Outstanding academic advising significantly improves our educational environment and helps ensure students have a successful college experience. These awards acknowledge and reinforce the importance of excellent academic advising for our students here at Southeast. Improving the relationship between students, faculty and staff is vital as the University strives to advance our retention and graduation rates. I would like to sincerely congratulate Jessica and Jim for their personal commitment to the academic success of our students. Their efforts are first rate.”

The Master Advisor Program, launched at Southeast in December 2016, is designed to improve the quality of academic advising for Southeast students by providing faculty and professional staff advisors with appropriate training, professional development, evaluation and recognition. The training offered through the program explores basic and advanced advising strategies and techniques; ethical issues related to advising; technologies and resources used in advising; academic policies and procedures; and changes to curriculum that impact advisors.

The program is creating a core of highly skilled academic advisors who provide high quality advising to undergraduate students. Upon completion of the program, participants are equipped with a variety of resources to serve as advising leaders in their home departments. The program is a step towards the University’s goal to retain at least 80 percent of all first-time, full-time students to the second year and graduate at least 60 percent of this group in six years.

Since the program’s launch, seven full-day workshops have been attended by 159 faculty and 34 staff members. In addition, 198 faculty and staff have participated in seven topical workshops on advising transfer students, students on probation, advising honors students, advising as mentoring, debunking financial aid and billing, and advising international students.

Heisserer thanked Dr. Kevin Timlin, Brooke DeArman, Priya Kramer and Breanna Walling in International Education & Services; Dr. Jim McGill, interim director of the Jane Stephens Honors Program; and Verona Lambert and Krissy Loenneke, representing Student Financial Services for partnering to present the topical workshops. Author Jeffrey Selingo also served as a topical partner, along with Dr. Steven Hoffman and Jennifer Woolf of Career Services, when he presented “Preparing Students For Life After College” Jan. 11 during the Winter 2018 Faculty Development Day. Also assisting with a topical workshop on Advising Transfer Students were Brooke Lockhart, Jessica Brethold and Marcy Ball. In addition, Dana Daniel, Karie Stroder, Lisa Webb, Dr. Jeremy Ball, Dr. Tamara Buck, Ryan Heslinga, Lisa Miller and Professor Carole Pfeiffer assisted with a full-day certification workshop.

**Photo caption: From left are Dr. Karl Kunkel, provost; Jessica Brethold, academic advisor for Southeast’s College of Liberal Arts; and Dr. Jim McGill, professor of chemistry and interim director of Southeast’s Jane Stephens Honors Program.