LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas Office of Undergraduate Studies and the KU Advising Network selected Gretchen Heasty, director of TRIO Supportive Educational Services (SES) & STEM, as the 2018 Academic Advisor of the Year during an awards ceremony May 7 in the Kansas Union Ballroom. The award recognizes excellence in academic advising of undergraduate students by KU staff members.
Heasty oversees the administrative operations of KU’s TRIO SES & STEM programs. The many TRIO programs, two of which are SES & STEM, are federal outreach and student services programs designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. Heasty also provides comprehensive and personalized support in the areas of academic, career and financial advising to students from first-generation or low-income backgrounds, as well as students with documented disabilities.
She was one of 18 KU staff members who were nominated for this year’s honor.
“I’m thrilled for Gretchen and what this honor says about her commitment to KU students,” said DeAngela Burns-Wallace, vice provost for undergraduate studies. “Gretchen’s award is also good news for all undergraduates, not simply those with whom she works. The selection committee had a challenging task. The number of nominees was significantly higher this year, and the pool was just as talented and dedicated as last year. The majority of the nominations came directly from students, which speaks to the powerful impact our advisers are having on our students’ overall success.”
Heasty is a KU alumna and enjoys utilizing her experience to benefit students. Since joining the TRIO team in 2000, first as an adviser and then a project coordinator, she has discovered her passion for student development and learning. Heasty is involved on campus, having served on a variety of university committees and organizations, including Staff Fellows and Staff Senate. She has also intentionally chosen to participate in initiatives that recognize the importance of creating a welcoming and vibrant university community.
“It is my passion to work with students from their first step onto the KU campus until they walk down the hill for graduation,” Heasty said. “Sharing the stage with the other nominees who make KU a more welcoming place means the world to me, and I’m honored to have been chosen to receive the award.”
The KU Advising Network (KUAN), with support from the Undergraduate Studies office, established the Academic Advisor of the Year Award in 2017. The award recognizes outstanding academic advisers for their service to KU undergraduates. Nominees for the award must be in a staff role that directly advises undergraduate students. All nominees were evaluated on qualities and practices that demonstrate effective advising and distinguish an outstanding adviser. Characteristics went beyond occupational knowledge and included advocacy for students and student success, campus and community engagement, cultural competency, inclusiveness, leadership and more. These characteristics are in line with the professional guidelines and standards outlined by NACADA, the international education association of individuals engaged in academic advising. KU will nominate Heasty for the NACADA Global Outstanding Advising Award.
Across campus, 18 professional academic advisors were nominated and were recognized at the May 7 ceremony. The 2018 nominees are:
- Ashley Anguiano, William Allen White School of Journalism & Mass Communications
- Améa Chandler, Undergraduate Advising Center
- Chris Claussen, School of Pharmacy
- Paul Crosby, Undergraduate Advising Center
- Julie Hamel, TRIO SES & STEM
- Gretchen Heasty, TRIO SES & STEM
- Laura Leonard, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
- Kate Maisch, School of Engineering
- Dan McCarthy, William Allen White School of Journalism & Mass Communications
- Lauren McEnaney, School of Education, Edwards Campus
- Melissa Mikkelsen, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
- Dan Mueller, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Edwards Campus
- Paula Naughtin, School of Education
- Rita Riley, School of Music
- Precious Sanders, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
- Amy Schmidt, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
- Mattie Stevens, Undergraduate Advising Center
- Sydney Stone, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
The KUAN supports the academic advising community by providing professional development, social and networking opportunities. The network consists of various standing and ad hoc committees, which are supported by committee chairs and the Office for Undergraduate Studies. Members volunteer their time to the committee of their choice, and KUAN representatives serve on various campus and departmental committees. KUAN members believe adviser involvement on campus is essential in ensuring their input reaches administrators as they consider ways to improve student success.
Story by Sean Navarro