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WVU celebrates year of achievements in academic advising, student success

A thank you card sits on a table, its content reads praises to WVU advisrrs for adviser appreciation day.

WVU will celebrate Adviser Appreciation Day Tuesday (April 23), offering opportunities for students to thank the people who’ve supported them on their collegiate paths. (WVU Photo/Jennifer Shephard)

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West Virginia University investments designed to enhance the University’s academic advising community and culture are paying off when it comes to student success.

“We know that our academic advisers play a high-touch, high-impact role in helping students navigate through their academic journeys at WVU,” said Evan Widders, associate provost for undergraduate education.

“That’s why, over the past year, we’ve invested in elevating the advising profession through a consistent, intentional and coordinated approach as we streamline best practices, policies and procedures across the advising community.”

According to Widders, the University’s renewed academic advising strategy has, in part, helped increase retention, persistence and graduation rates.

First-year student retention from the Fall 2023 semester to the Spring 2024 semester saw its highest rate in eight years at 92.4%, while the four-year graduation rate continues to increase each year, reflecting a 7% jump over the past three years.

Director of University Advising Joy Carr credits regular communications and more professional development opportunities, coupled with proactive efforts to engage students in the process of tackling common challenges and advising concerns.

“It’s great to see students and administrators are working together to enhance the academic advising experience,” Carr said. “We know stronger advising practices lead to stronger student success.”

Outgoing Student Government Association President Madison Santmyer agrees.

“It’s been helpful to work with Director Carr and Dr. Widders to voice some of our concerns and better understand the changes taking place across the different colleges,” said Santmyer. “We look forward to a more open dialogue between the SGA and administration moving forward regarding advising and other topics.”

The University community will celebrate Adviser Appreciation Day Tuesday (April 23).

This past year, Carr has enhanced a weekly advising email to ensure the University advising community is well-informed and has access to the latest resources. But beyond the day-to-day transactions of academic advising, Carr also recognizes students’ needs for consistent levels of care and support through additional advising strategies.

Gone are the days when advisers simply help students schedule classes and answer questions about enrollment or grades,” Carr said. “Advisers often find themselves on the frontlines of helping students manage mental health challenges, family issues, feelings of loneliness and isolation, or not being as academically or personally prepared for college as they may have anticipated.”

To help equip advisers to face these additional challenges, academic advisers are now coming together more frequently through the Academic Advising Council to build community and learn from one another about how to hold difficult conversations, troubleshoot problems, manage conflict, and motivate and inspire students through relationship building.

Colin Street, a rising sophomore from Morgantown who is pursuing three majors in two different colleges, said he appreciates his advisers’ routine, high touch points.

“Thanks to my political science adviser who sends out weekly emails about upcoming opportunities, I’ve already secured a legislative internship on Capitol Hill in Washington and have been accepted as a Roosevelt Network Fellow before the end of the semester,” Street said. “I may not have learned about these opportunities or gained the confidence to apply had it not been for his consistent communications.”

To share and learn about some of these effective approaches, the Academic Advising Council is now spearheading and hosting a free annual statewide academic advising conference. In its first year, more than 150 advisers from across West Virginia attended the series of virtual workshops and discussions.

The reach, however, extends beyond the Mountain State. University advisers are contributing their expertise on a national platform through the National Academic Advising Association. By competing for regional and national awards and presenting their work, WVU advisers are positioning themselves as leaders in the academic advising field.

Others from across the country are taking notice. In February, Carr was awarded a full scholarship to attend the 2024 NACADA Administrators’ Institute based on current WVU advising actions.

Students are also seeing a difference. Results from a recent advising evaluation survey cite positive and productive interactions between advisers and students. Specific highlights include: 93% of student respondents agree their advisers are professional and courteous; 92% report their advisers are accessible; and 89% agree their advisers can answer their questions or connect them with someone who can.

I could go on forever about how welcoming, kind and helpful my adviser is,” one student wrote in the evaluation survey. “She has helped me with any question or concern I have had. She takes the time to get to know me and makes the effort to check in on me. It’s safe to say she is the best adviser I have had.”

This spring, a record-setting 830 nominations were submitted for the annual Nicholas Evans Excellence in Advising Awards and 88% of those nominations came from students.

I’m excited to continue this momentum in the months and years to come,” Carr said.



Communications Director, Centers and Institutes
WVU Office of the Provost

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