PACADA honors two advisors for outstanding work

February 5, 2014  


Anneliese Kay (left), recipient of the Outstanding Academic Advisor award, and Peter Vasher, recipient of the Outstanding New Professional award. They were recognized Jan. 30 by PACADA, the Purdue Academic Advising Association. (Purdue University photo/Mark Simons)
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Two academic advisors who bring energy and breadth of interest to their job were honored Thursday (Jan. 30) by the Purdue Academic Advising Association (PACADA).

Outstanding Academic Advisor: Anneliese Kay, College of Agriculture

Anneliese Kay consistently is effective and respected at the individual and organizational level, say those who nominated her, because she is caring, warm, thorough and committed. She shines in a challenging advising position and, in nine years, already has provided major leadership in PACADA.

As assistant director of transfer/dual-credit, Kay is a key player in the student-by-student success of Pathway to Purdue. Pathway to Purdue assists students who are enrolled simultaneously in Purdue's College of Agriculture and at Ivy Tech Lafayette.

"They're amazing students, balancing two schools," she says. "We usually admit about 30 per year and we're in our fourth year. A lot go into agribusiness and animal sciences, but they can choose virtually any major in the College of Agriculture." So many academic and career paths are associated with Purdue Agriculture that helping every student requires a huge amount of information, which Kay sees as a cue for collegiality and connection.

In fact, she took that approach immediately upon becoming an academic advisor to undergraduate students in Krannert School of Management, a position she held from 2005 to 2012. That approach led her to rapid involvement in PACADA, and she was chair in 2008-10, then chair of professional development in 2012-13.

"I wanted to get to know the people on campus," she says. "When someone is thinking of changing their major, you know who you can call to find out more."

The professional development team in PACADA plans a fall retreat, a Spotlight series and PACADA Presents, all of which build teamwork and professional insight and skill. In March, she and a colleague will make a presentation about Pathway to Purdue at a regional event.

Her belief in professional development is reflected in her statement of advising philosophy, which in part says, "I am also continually learning from my experiences, interactions, and education to develop new ways to work."

Even more, she accepted a nomination to Purdue's Council for Manager Development in 2010-12, in which her team developed a program that led to the implementation of Virtual STAR. That program pairs with the summertime on-campus STAR program for incoming students, and it allows those who cannot make a preliminary campus trip, particularly international students, to have many of STAR's benefits. Virtual STAR went live in summer 2013.

Kay says, "I have a vested interest in Purdue and the betterment of its students." In part, that commitment stems from having two bachelor's degrees (individual and family studies, and history) and a master's (educational studies, specialization in college student affairs) from Purdue. Also, she credits her advisor when she was a student with important help.

"Advising is an area that really can impact students," she says. "When you can help, it's a great feeling. We're there for their successes, failures, and we help pick them back up again."

Outstanding New Professional: Peter Vasher, Exploratory Studies

Peter Vasher's enthusiasm for life, which people often notice pretty quickly, suits him well in his role as an academic advisor in Exploratory Studies.

For one thing, he thinks readily in terms of possibilities, and that connects to the program's first- and second-year students, who are undecided about a major -- often because they have numerous talents and interests.

Moreover, Vasher relishes his travel around the United States -- a product of family distribution and sports involvement -- and uses that to strike up friendly conversation with advisees while learning about their interests and backgrounds.

"This helps make it a comfortable environment," he says. "They're experiencing much more than they did in high school. If they can relax and talk about what they like, together we can expand the range of things they're willing to think about."

With one student who is a Notre Dame fan, Vasher found shared interest on account of his bachelor's degree from Michigan and those universities' athletic legacies. He likes music festivals and has found ties with Chinese students who have attended festivals in their homeland.

One colleague wrote: "[He] has the exceptional ability to energize students and lead them in a positive direction. He is dependable, conscientious, and compassionate."

Responding to Vasher's sensitivity to the individual, one student wrote: "He helped me realize that it is OK that I didn’t like certain subjects and I shouldn’t pick a major if I wasn’t interested in the subject matter."

Vasher's academic and professional backgrounds have provided perspective also. He earned a master's in higher education at the University of South Carolina and worked in advising there. During those years, he interned at Penn State. Later, he was an advisor at the University of South Florida before coming to Purdue in May 2012.

In addition to his style, those experiences have whetted his appetite for research-based knowledge in his field, he says. He is part of a revival of PACADA's Research Committee, which encourages not only learning but also original scholarship in the field, where a lot of current attention is to retention.

He also represents Exploratory Studies on the University Advising Assessment Committee, which is helping refine Purdue's efforts as it lifts the campus-wide quality of advising.

Vasher appreciates what it means to be at major research university that is attending to its standards and practices. He feels that he has the resources and the one-on-one opportunities to succeed in the "hard conversations" as well as the lighter moments.

"It's very rewarding," he says, "to see someone who's undecided connect the dots and discover something they can study and have passion for."

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