ONT-Advise, Spring, 2009
A Newsletter About Post-secondary Academic Advising in Ontario
Welcome to the Spring, 2009 edition of ONT-Advise! This season will have advising professionals far and wide taking part in gardening activities. Whether it is planting the seeds of academic success at work, or tilling the soil in our yards, these activities share many similarities. At work, we try to ensure that the students that we see are planted in the proper row of the academic garden (their program or courses). We water them well (provide them with the resources that they can use to grow), provide them with sunshine (smiles and words of encouragement), and place trellises close by (offering support and Kleenexes in our offices, and making referrals for other supports such as learning workshops and counseling). We also celebrate a harvest (watch as they proudly march across the platform during convocation). Good luck in all of your gardening endeavours this season!
Naming This Newsletter
In the inaugural edition of the newsletter, we asked for suggestions for a new name for the newsletter. We haven’t received any suggestions yet. Please don’t be shy – send a suggestion to Jo (firstname.lastname@example.org). All suggested names will be published in the next edition and an online vote will be held on our new website (www.ontarioadvising.webs.com).
The ad hoc committee on advising in Ontario would like to take some time in this issue to introduce ourselves to you in this edition of the newsletter. This is a group of seven advising professionals from colleges and universities around the province who have come together to help guide professional development opportunities in the province. We have also included Amy Gaukel here. She is the Chair of the Ontario Advising Conference, 2009 Committee. So, sit back, take a sip of your tea or coffee, and take a moment to get to know us……
Sarah Campbell – My name is Sarah Campbell, and I am a Student Advisor here at Northern College of Applied Arts and Technology in Timmins, Ontario. After growing up in the small town of South Porcupine, I decided to pursue my education at the University of Windsor, enrolling as an International Relations major. Three years and a few too many Economics courses later, I realized that I enjoyed the Political Science component of the International Relations program, and became a Political Science major. After graduating with an Honours B.A., I was accepted into the University of Windsor’s Graduate program, and completed my M.A. with a focus on Environmental Politics.
Following the completion of my M.A., I was offered and had accepted a position in Ottawa working for the Ministry of the Solicitor General. After three years, I was offered and accepted a position with the same Ministry in Vancouver, where I worked closely with the Ministry of Immigration and Citizenship. Two years later, a desire to move closer to home brought me back to Timmins. I explored new career paths, and was welcomed at Northern College. The role of Advisor in this small, Northern Ontario town was a new and challenging experience. Interestingly, despite not having been on my original career path, I simply am unable to imagine a more rewarding opportunity, where each day brings something different, and each year brings new students to guide.
In my spare time, I am a Board Member of Kidsport Timmins, and enjoy competing in various sporting activities, including cross country skiing and various triathlon events throughout Ontario. I also enjoy relaxing at home or at the Cottage with my husband Erik, and my daughter Mari.
Shari Dorr – Shari Dorr is originally from Ancaster, Ontario but has resided in Guelph since arriving there to complete her undergraduate degree. Since that time she has completed her Honours B.A., a graduate Diploma in Leadership and a Master of Arts in Leadership at Guelph. She also has a graduate Certificate in Academic Advising and expects to graduate from the Master of Science in Academic Advising program at Kansas State University in May 2009. Currently Shari works for the University of Guelph as the Coordinator of the Undergraduate Academic Information Centre (in the Office of the Associate Vice President, Academic). Additionally, since arriving in Guelph, Shari has served the equivalent of almost 25 years of volunteer time to the community through the Alumni Association, the Professional Staff Association, St. Joseph Hospital and Home (Guelph), the College of Arts Alumni Association, the Alzheimer Society of Guelph-Wellington and the Guelph Arts Council.
Amy Gaukel – Currently the Manager, First Year Student Experience at Seneca College in Toronto, Amy Gaukel works to support first year students at the College, as well as to inform faculty and staff about who first year students are and what they need. Amy chairs a number of committees including the Taskforce on Academic Advising and Student Success, and works within the College’s Strategic Enrollment Management framework. Since 2006 Amy and her staff have increased attendance at Fall Orientations by 72%.
Prior to working at Seneca, Amy was a Residence Life Coordinator at St. Francis Xavier University (Antigonish, NS) for four years. Living and working with residence students, Amy developed a number of new programs & themed communities, as well as led a social norming research project on student behaviours related to alcohol consumption. As an undergraduate student at Wilfrid Laurier University, Amy held a number of student positions in residence and the Students’ Union. Amy has also been a board member of the Student Life Education Company and is currently a candidate in the Master of Education program at the University of Calgary, specializing in Higher Education Leadership.
In her spare time, Amy enjoys photography, training her new Golden Retriever puppy (Wookee), walking/hiking/camping, doing needlepoint, watching movies with her partner, Mark, and reading. Amy is a proud step-mom to Elliott and aunt to Holly.
Jill Johnson – Jill has been involved in advising for quite some time now! Having started as a program counsellor for a first year academic program at University of Guelph, she has continued in the profession for longer than she wants to say! She jumped into the activity of being involved in the professional organizations about academic advising in 1994 as the Canadian Representative for the National Academic Advising Association’s (NACADA). Since then she has been involved in NACADA regularly in a number of positions and notes that she is especially delighted that she was able to be instrumental in making sure NACADA came to Ottawa, Canada for their annual conference in October 2001. Now she juggles working full time at the University of Guelph and (trying to) work on a doctoral degree at OISE/UT. Some day, just maybe, she’ll be successful at completing that pursuit.
Marty Lowman – For Marty being an academic advisor was never part of the career plan – it’s interesting how things all into place. Marty attended University as an adult student – one of those who needed to upgrade his education to move into a new career. During his student years he became involved with the Organization of Part-time University Students (OPUS) at the University of Windsor, eventually becoming the President of OPUS. This position made Marty a member of the University of Windsor (U of W) Senate and the Board of Governors, providing a look how and why decisions are made at the institutional level.
Right after he graduated, Marty applied for a contract position to establish an information centre for students at the U of W. He was hired and the office and the position became permanent. It didn’t take long for Marty to discover that most questions students asked had to do with their academic progress, course selection and University policies and procedures. He began to lobby to have his information office’s mandate to be expanded to include academic advising. It took some time but now Marty is the Director of the Advising Centre at the University of Windsor which provides general advising for students and has advising responsibility for Undeclared Majors.
Marty is a member of the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA).
Dave Marasco I have been employed at Algoma University since 1992 and currently the Assistant Registrar in the Office of the Registrar. My duties include course and examination, records, records management, institutional research & academic policies, and graduation. Also, I am the Secretary of Senate, serve on the Curriculum Committee, the Academic Standards & Teaching and Learning Committee and the Academic Regulations and Petitions Committee (all committees of Senate). I am also the Vice-Chair of the Standing Committee on Records and Systems of the Ontario University Registrars’ Association.
Academic advising is an important service that post-secondary institutions provide their students. Retention, enrolment, graduation rates, employment rates and personal career goals are all at stake when we measure the academic advising process. The academic preparation we provide our students reflects directly on the institution, therefore, as university administrators, we all need to ensure that we have the skills necessary to provide this service.
Jo Stewart – I’ve been involved in advising at Brock University for nine years. I started in the Psychology Department in 2000, and have since moved to the Office of the Dean of Social Sciences. In my current role, I do a lot of collaborating with other universities and community colleges in the province. This helped me to realize that there are a wide variety of advising professionals in Ontario, many of whom have a strong desire for professional development that is geared towards advising in a Canadian setting. Partly as a result of that realization, I started actively seeking out and helping to create professional development for us. I became the Ontario Representative to Region 5 of the National ACademic ADvising Association (NACADA). I was also able to re-start the tradition of having an annual advising conference in 2007. I find it extremely rewarding to take direction from my fellow advisors about their professional development needs, and in trying to find ways to help satisfy those needs.
In my downtime, I love spending time with my sweetheart of eighteen years, Larry, and our dog Maggie. I also have a passion for knitting, and have been seen at a number of conferences with my knitting needles flying along as I sit and listen to presentations. I promise never to knit if I am the one making the presentation, but don’t be surprised to see me at a conference with knitting needles in hand if I am simply an attendee!
Tracey Szarka – Tracey earned a BSc at the University of Guelph in 1989 and endured a brief but frustrating career in sales until she returned to campus life – from the other side. She has been advising Ontario post-secondary students since 1997. Beginning in career advising, she taught job search strategies at the University of Guelph, and was the program officer in Engineering Career Services at McMaster. A charming and handsome personal interest took her to Toronto and a stint as a coop coordinator at Seneca@York, then to the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering at the University of Toronto where she began as a high school liaison and moved quickly into academic advising as the First Year Advisor. Finally making a break from the sciences (sort of), Tracey is currently an academic advisor for the nursing program at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Oshawa, Ontario.
When not haunting the campus, Tracey has enjoyed a rich circle of community and friendship since moving to Oshawa in 2005 with the charming and handsome Mike and the enchanting and beautiful Princess Katie. She has been known to belt out a tune or two with local and international musicians and is currently trying to learn how to play piano by osmosis through said princess’s Suzuki lessons. Tracey owns many instruments that she hopes to one day be able to play!
2009 Conference Update
You’re Invited to Seneca College!
We are very excited to be hosting this year’s Ontario Academic Advisors’ Conference. We are busy laying the foundations of the conference at the college, solidifying our conference committee, booking rooms, brainstorming themes, developing websites and so much more! There are lots of things to do and many people offering to help. This conference will be a true effort in collaboration. We are hoping to call for proposals to present in late May or early June, so get your thinking caps on! Registrations should open mid-summer.
The details so far… Date: Friday, October 30, 2009. Thursday night will be early registration and a hospitality suite. Location: Seneca College’s Markham Campus.
A little about Seneca College… We are one of the largest colleges in Canada, with over 18,000 full-time and 100,000 part-time students choosing to study one of over 500 possible careers at Seneca every year. We have 9 campuses throughout the northern GTA, offering everything from academic upgrading, 1 year certificates, 2 & 3 year diplomas and Applied Bachelors Degrees. With over 90 countries represented and over 70 languages spoken on our campuses every day, our campuses truly represent the diversity that is Toronto. We have many partnerships with industry leaders, the latest computer technology and provide our students with practical, hands-on training for their chosen career. We have a fleet of 14 airplanes, a 50 foot dive-tank and our 3-D animation students played a large role in the creation of Ryan, an Oscar-winning short animated film. To learn more about the college and how to get to our campuses, visit our website at www.senecac.on.ca
Questions about the conference? Contact Conference Chair, Amy Gaukel at 416-491-5050 ext 6736 or email@example.com
Some Advising Chuckles
I recently came across a new website that will be used for advisors to share their funny stories. I will be writing an anecdote one day soon about the student who once called me looking for a brain (a true story!). In the meantime, if you would like to read funny or unbelievable stories about students at post-secondary institutions in North America, check out “The Advisor Diaries” at: www.advisordiaries.com. If you have a funny story to share, please feel free to post it there for the rest of us to enjoy!
Higher Education Newsletter
There are a number of electronic newsletters to which you can subscribe if you would like to receive information about a variety of issues in higher education. One that I receive on a regular basis comes from the Educational Policy Institute. According to their website, “The Educational Policy Institute is an international, non-partisan think-tank with offices in Toronto, Virginia Beach, and Melbourne, Australia. The mission of the Educational Policy Institute is to ‘expand educational opportunity for low-income and other historically-underrepresented students through high-level research and analysis.’” If you would like to investigate and/or subscribe to their newsletter, see www.educationalpolicy.org. Click on the “Stay Connected” link in the upper right-hand corner if you wish to subscribe.
One example of an article that was referenced in a recent edition of the EPI newsletter deals with the importance of advising in college-university transfer. This article was written from a US perspective, but I think that there are some gems of wisdom that can be gained for both college and university advising professionals who work with students that do aim to transfer across institutions. If you are interested, see www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/01/26/articulation.
A Final Word
The ad hoc committee will continue to try to guide professional development opportunities for advising professionals, but we don’t want it to be just about what we see as important. We have a mailing list of almost 500 of you, mainly in Ontario, but some in other provinces and states as well. We need to hear from you with contributions to this newsletter, or about what you would like in professional development. Each of us has a different perspective on the students that we serve, and it is wonderful to share that perspective, so don’t be shy – think of a way that you can contribute. Do you have an interesting advising program that you could write a brief article about for this newsletter? Do you have a way of engaging your students in the advising process that has been successful that you can share with everyone? Are you looking for help with any advising issues? All of these things can be published in this newsletter with the aim to either help others advance their advising programs, or to ask for direction from someone who may have experienced similar advising conundrums at some point.
As always, feel free to share this newsletter with any advising professional who may not have received it. Also feel free to contact Jo Stewart if you wish to go on the mailing list to receive future newsletters and conference information.