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Improving the Advisor Experience through Professional Development

Providing professional development and continuing education opportunities for advisors as been an integral goal of the Academic and Career Advising Redesign project in order to improve the experience of advisors and create a culture where work is a source of joy. On Tuesday, June 6th, 2017, over 50 PSU advisors, faculty, and staff gathered in Smith Memorial Student Union for the first annual Spring Advising and Career Services Workshop & Breakfast. This event was comprised of two parts, the first part included workshops on Transferology, PSU’s course equivalency tool, and Handshake, PSU’s new career portal; the second part of the morning was an awards reception dedicated to recognizing PSU’s advising community for the unique traits, exceptional contributions, and interactions with students, colleagues, and units/departments at PSU.

The awards section began with applause for six advisors from the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (CLAS) and the School of Public Health (SPH) who received certificates of participation for taking Personal Finance 218 spring term. This online course taught by School of Business Administration (SBA) Instructor of Management Brenda Eichelberger, was offered for the first time as a professional development opportunity this year. Members of the Professional Development Committee, a committee comprised of the Associate Vice Provost of Advising and Career Services, PSU staff from Office of Academic Affairs, and six academic advisors across schools/colleges, then came to the stage to present awards to advisors that inspired laughter!

Advising Awards Ceremony-7

Personal Finance 218 participants: J. Rousseau, E. Benner, A. Douangpanya, T. Romaniuk, S. Snyder

Advising Awards Ceremony-55

Abel de la Cruz and Anna Pittioni, College of the Arts

During the final part of the event, the recipient of the Dan Fortmiller Award for Excellence in Advising was announced. This award is dedicated to former PSU staff member and mentor, Dan Fortmiller.  This was the second year to recognize an exemplary advisor who demonstrates exceptional service to students through academic and/or career advising, as well as to the PSU advising community through leadership, advocacy, and/or service. Emotions peaked in the room as last year’s recipient, Laura Marsh (CLAS) shared moving stories submitted by students and colleagues for this year’s award recipient.  The room stood and cheered as Rosalyn Taylor, Coordinator of Instruction for the Diversity of Multicultural Student Services TRiO Program, came up to receive her award plaque and gift basket. It was a meaningful way to end the academic year.

This well-attended end-of-the-year event was planned and hosted by the Professional Development Committee, who has met bi-monthly to coordinate engaging and relevant trainings and professional development opportunities. At the beginning of the year, the committee solicited input and feedback on relevant and desired topics from the wider advising and career services community. The responses from the 2016-17 and 2015-16 surveys on professional development, as well as important updates and changes to the advising community, were considered when the group planned a total 15 professional development trainings and opportunities across fall, winter, and spring terms.These included presentations and interactive workshops (e.g., cultural competency, professional development plans, video screenings on cultural topics, Banner, Summer term Financial Aid) facilitated by various units across campus (advisors, faculty, Financial Aid, Registrar’s Office, Orientation).

Not only has attendance and participation increased this year, the advising community has provided members of the committee with positive feedback on the knowledge and resources received.  A key part of experiencing an increase in satisfaction this year has been the opportunity to come together as a community at a minimum of three times per term, share a meal, listen, and learn from their peers and colleagues. The Professional Development Committee will continue to meet through the summer to host both informational and recreational sessions and start planning for the 2017-18 year. It is clear that the advising and career services community at PSU is dedicated to improving the student experience. As implementation of Academic and Career Advising Redesign recommendations move forward, continuing to provide professional development and continuing education opportunities will be critical to improving the advisor experience.

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