Kathleen Kerr, academic exploration and advising services academic advisor, is the latest addition to the list of MU advising staff to receive recognition from the National Academic Advising Association.
The association, which recognizes advisors on regional and national levels in four different categories, will give Kerr the award for 'Outstanding Adviser in a Primary Role' for regional district seven on Feb. 28 at a a conference in San Antonio, Texas, according to a news release from TLC@Mizzou.
The seventh district of the NACADA includes schools from Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.
Kerr has been at MU for 10 years. She worked in the plant sciences department for two years before becoming an advisor. Each semester she sees approximately 250 to 350 students, mostly undeclared, pre-journalism and pre-communication freshmen, sophomores and transfer students.
“I wanted to be a guide for students as they begin their academic careers,” Kerr said. “As students are introduced to new subjects and have new experiences they grow and change, and their interests grow and change. It’s always very exciting to see that process.”
Kerr said she discusses strengths and weaknesses when meeting with her students, in addition to what they can do to balance and manage classes that might be more difficult.
“Helping students understand their degree requirements and teaching them to take control of their degree will serve them well in the long run," Kerr said.
While Kerr said her job as an academic advisor is based heavily on curriculum she also tries to help new and younger students understand how the university works as they live independently for the first time.
“As advisors we help with a lot of things that come up that could impede academic success,” Kerr said. “(Students) are not just, book machines ...”
Kerr said that she and advisors help with troubleshooting and problem solving.
Junior Paige Fuerstel said she has used her advisor to help find internships and decide on a minor.
Freshman Tory Patrick said her advisor has helped her establish her class schedule and has also sent her helpful emails and notifications.
Kerr said she is very honored to receive the NACADA award and proud of the number of MU faculty and advisors who have received similar awards in the past few years.
Each spring, students, colleagues, supervisors and others around the MU campus nominate advisors to receive Excellence in Advising awards.
Rachael Orr, senior academic advisor for AEAS, said two letters of recommendation from students must be received for a nomination.
After advisors are awarded on the university level, the school can send one advisor in each category to advance to the state, regional and national levels.
According to the TLC@Mizzou news release, the three categories advisors can be awarded for are primary role, faculty role and advising administrator. This is the fourth year in a row at least one MU advisor has been recognized by the NACADA.
“We’ve known for a long time that advisors are doing good things on our campus and now we’re getting more recognition,” Orr said. “We’ve been more consistently nominating advisors at the state regional and national levels, but I think it also really speaks to the level of advising that is happening and that we’ve had this kind of run of quality advising.”
Orr said the awards speak to a high level of advising at MU.
“Advisors really care about students and students being successful,” Orr said. “That’s what really shines in the awards is what the students are saying. It shows the advisors going above and beyond in many ways.”