Reimagining Academic Advising to Empower Student Success

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The Office of Academic Advising, the Center for Faculty Excellence and Project GRAD at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi welcomed back Dr. Charlie Nutt, executive director of the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA), on May 3, during the “Advising & Student Success: Providing Resources for Smooth Sailing” workshop. Nutt, who travels to universities all over the world and was this year’s keynote speaker, discussed the integral role academic advising plays in creating a community that supports student success.

“One of the visions in hosting this workshop was to create collaborative learning opportunities for advisors, staff and faculty,” said Jocelyn Gutierrez, program coordinator of Project GRAD. “Our University strives to understand student success and how we can contribute to student achievement.”

The Anchor Ballroom was packed with faculty and staff ready to learn how creating an environment at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi where different departments can intersect, connect and gain insight from experts not only impacts the quality of service provided but also the overall educational experience Islander students have on campus. In between panels, groups of attendees discussed the value of collaboration within academic advising, hoping to incorporate Nutt’s shared knowledge during their own student interactions.

“Bringing in experts can affirm some of the things we are doing well and provide information on the challenges or similarities other institutions experience when it comes to student success,” said John Paul “J.P.” Regalado, executive director of Academic Advising. “We are always looking for feedback and new ways to gather data to assess the effectiveness of academic advising for our Islanders.”

According to Nutt’s presentation, reimagining academic advising calls for institutional change. Where cultivating an impactful learning community means building relationships between students and advisors, connecting with students as individuals, encouraging questions, engaging students inside and outside of the classroom and providing intellectual mentorship. He also emphasized that advisors must look at the different risk factors that affect students of all levels and work to assess their needs. 

“It’s so interesting and invigorating to hear about all of the endeavors going on in different parts of the Island University,” said Nutt. “Knocking down walls between departments and working as partners is not something many universities are doing well, but I think this campus is making connections and doing wonderful work for its students.”

Susan La Torre, a student activity coordinator in the Division of Student Engagement and Success, was one of many staff and faculty members who attended the workshop.

“Giving our advisors every opportunity to develop themselves so they can in-turn develop others is very important,” said La Torre. “We need to empower students; to help them discover their goals and help navigate paths to reach those goals.”

NACADA is a nationally recognized association whose mission is to promote student success by advancing the field of academic advising. With 14,000 members, NACADA aspires to be the premier global association for the development and dissemination of innovative theory, research and practice of academic advising in higher education.