Category Archives: News You Can Use

The Intercultural Development Inventory: What Is It and Why Does It Matter?

Beth Jones was a recipient of a PACADA Professional Development Grant for the 2017 year. Beth is an academic advisor in Exploratory Studies and used her funds to attend the NACADA regional conference!

Article by: Beth Jones

We’ve all had those experiences—the ones where it feels like you are having one conversation and your student is having an entirely different conversation. Something just isn’t clicking. You feel like your message is clear, but how is it being received? And, are you accurately interpreting the message you are receiving?

For anyone who has worked with students or has had a conversation with anyone EVER (so all of us!), these aren’t uncommon experiences, but they are more common when two people come from different cultures. Did you pick the right word? Did you read their body language correctly? Did you use an obscure idiomatic expression like when pigs fly that made no sense to the other person? Intercultural conversation is a minefield of potential misinterpretation. In his book The Art of Crossing Cultures, intercultural communications consultant Craig Storti defines an unsuccessful “cross-cultural encounter” as “whenever one or more of the parties is confused, offended, frustrated, or otherwise put off by the behavior of any of the other parties” (26). Sound familiar?

This is exactly why intercultural competence is such an important skill to cultivate. But, what is it exactly? Intercultural Development Inventory, LLC defines intercultural competence as “the capability to shift cultural perspective and appropriately adapt behavior to cultural differences and commonalities.” Study after study has clearly proven the importance of developing intercultural competence for learning, working, and beyond. According to research by IDI, LLC founder Dr. Mitchell R. Hammer, students who study abroad gain many benefits from greater intercultural competence including an increased interest in other cultures, more intercultural friendships, less anxiety about other cultures, and higher overall satisfaction with their study abroad experience. In fact, many Purdue courses and programs use the IDI as their primary assessment tool to measure intercultural competence among their students. Some programs even require students to complete the assessment to participate in study abroad programs. But, the assessment is not just for students. The IDI is available to all faculty, staff, and students through Purdue’s Center for Intercultural Learning, Mentorship, Assessment, and Research (CILMAR).

Purdue’s academic advising web page on advising competencies lists cultural competency as one of the core skills advisors need to master to have successful interactions with students. This particular competency, as explained on the Purdue web page, suggests that advisors should “engage in self-reflection, be aware that cultural identities influence thinking and behavior,” and “exhibit the relational skills to advise effectively across differences.” It is important to note that these skills do not just extend to interactions with international students, however, but to any interaction where there is difference.

There are, of course, many ways to improve your intercultural competence skills such as through traveling abroad and getting to know people from other cultures, but there is a catch when we attempt to freestyle how we gain these skills. Human nature means we are pretty terrible at actually assessing just how refined our intercultural competence skills are—a notion the IDI supports. In other words, we most likely have a mindset that doesn’t align with our actual skillset—a gap, if you will. We may see ourselves one way but interact with the world differently. According to IDI, LLC, it is a myth that we can gain deep intercultural competence through experience alone—as if it is as easy as getting a tan while soaking up the sun’s rays. The truth is we often enter those experiences from our own cultural perspective thus limiting what we may actually gain in intercultural awareness. In the words of CILMAR Intercultural Learning Specialist (and my husband) Dr. Daniel Jones, the formula for intercultural development is “intentional interactions + time + reflection.”

So how can you lessen or close the mindset/skillset gap so that your heart and mind are more in sync? This is where the Intercultural Development Inventory assessment comes in. According to the IDI, LLC web article “Why Should You Consider Using the Intercultural Development Inventory?”, the IDI is the “only theory-based assessment of intercultural competence [that] allows you to see an individual’s or group’s progression along a continuum of cross-cultural competence.” It is a highly researched instrument that can help individuals and groups “make sense of cultural differences and also how they respond to cultural differences.”

Once you have taken the 50-question assessment, an Intercultural Development Inventory Qualified Administrator (just over 100 at Purdue including me) holds a debriefing session with you to review your results and make a plan for further development along the IDI continuum. You receive an individualized developmental plan that “guides the person through a series of activities and self-reflections” to help you intentionally move forward on the IDI continuum and to better understand and notice “patterns of difference” (“The Individual Development Plan”). These activities can include brief writing exercises and suggestions for continued learning and reflection such as attending training programs, traveling, and reading journals and books. The goal is that you complete these activities using the intentional skills that make them meaningful intercultural development opportunities rather than passive experiences informed by the limited worldview we all start out with.

Before becoming an administrator, I had to take the assessment and be debriefed. The experience was deeply meaningful—almost therapeutic. It forced me to reflect on aspects of my past and how they inform my outlook and actions and how to grow beyond my limitations. The entire experience is designed to be objective and developmental.

Taking the IDI and being debriefed can help those of us who work in higher education become better at what we do most—serve students. I have found that my experience with the IDI has not just broadly improved my intercultural competence but has also given me better language for how to engage with others wherever there is difference.

If you would like to learn more about the IDI, visit where you can read more about the assessment as well as view some short introductory videos. Additionally, you can contact an intercultural learning specialist with CILMAR by emailing The assessment is $15 for staff/faculty and $11 for students. CILMAR also offers training to become a qualified administrator of the IDI as well as ideas about mitigating costs of the assessment.

If we are going to talk to students about the importance of study abroad and developing skills for an increasingly global workplace, we have to do our part by seeking out opportunities to develop these skills for ourselves. Knowing where we are on the IDI continuum and how we can grow can help us all better navigate the often tricky, culturally ambiguous situations we sometimes find ourselves in and that can only make us better advisors, instructors, or whatever it is we may be to our students and each other.

Suggested readings and resources:

  1. The Art of Crossing Cultures, Craig Storti
  2. Cross-Cultural Dialogues: 74 Brief Encounters with Cultural Difference, Craig Storti
  3. Students Learning Abroad: What Our Students Are Learning, What They’re Not, and What We Can Do About It, Michael Vande Berg, R. Michael Paige, Kris Hemming Lou

NACADA – 41st Annual Conference – St. Louis

Pat George was a recipient of a PACADA Professional Development Grant for the 2017 year. He used his funds to attend the NACADA Annual Conference in St. Louis, MO. See below for more information about his experience!

Article By: Pat George

There are many familiar words associated with St. Louis. Three that come to mind are gateway, arch, and Cardinals (sorry Cubs fans). However, during October 11-14, 2017, NACADA was all the buzz at America’s Center in downtown St. Louis.

I was fortunate to receive a PACADA professional development grant to attend this conference, and I was equally privileged to attend with some of my office colleagues who I believe are some of the most dedicated and caring advisors on this campus. Our Senior Associate Dean, Dr. Holly Mason, supports our Office of Student Services in the College of Pharmacy in numerous ways, and my colleagues and I benefit tremendously from his confidence and conviction.

Speaking of conviction, I am reporting on what I thought was one of the most intriguing and bold sessions at this conference, “The Problems and Promise of Big Data in Advising.” Kudos to NACADA and the selection committee for allowing this proposal to become a reality. It could have easily been passed over due to its subject matter and outcomes that challenge a service retailed by one of the main sponsors of the conference.

Adrienne Sewell, Director of Advising for Retention and Sophomore Initiatives at Indiana University Bloomington provoked thought and insight regarding the academe’s infatuation with big data. “When it comes to data, we aren’t always sure what we are looking at,” stated Sewell. She continued, “Expectations are that we will be able to search like Google® and make recommendations like Netflix®. Big Data can solve anything!”

Sewell stated, “Predictive analytics, data mining, and pattern recognition are now common terms in our digital world, and they promise to practically solve any problem. Looking back at our past Presidential election, it appears Big Data missed the mark as some of the most sophisticated predictive analytics tools in the world were all but certain of the outcome of the election.”

I was fascinated by her explanation of the evolution of computer programming. She explained that initially, computers were programmed by people. Programmers looked at data and made a hypothesis. Today, we are teaching computers the ability to learn without being programmed – to not only have the logic to answer questions, but to create the questions. A couple of examples are Netflix® which predicts what you would like to watch and our smart phones learning about us through typos, voice recognition, routes on GPS, etc.

How does this impact advising? Sewell referenced an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education as saying old- school advising is about who appears in front of you – it’s very limited. New-school advising is using predictive analytics to target a specific group. But is this true?

Sewell argued, “Our responsibility as advisors is to make sure we monitor how well the system is working. Keep good records of any errors (screen shots are ideal) and when systems are developed or enhanced, make sure we are advocates for advisor input/testing. Recognize that not all predictions have equal accuracy. Big data makes predictions for all students which leads to false-positives because it must select an answer.” She quoted Baer and Norris (2013) asserting analytics is only one piece in a student success system. It requires commitment to persistent, personalized actions, and interventions to improve student success guided by analytics-based insights.

Sewell concluded by asking us to ponder these questions: When do our data points become ethical issues? What about economic background, financial need, race, etc.? Can assessing risk become a self-fulfilling prophecy? She followed with acknowledging that data can help answer questions, describe/discover a pattern, figure out students to reach out to, but we must continually adjust and use data wisely because approaches matter and data alone won’t save us.


PACADA Retreat Spotlight: Dr. Tim Elmore on Generation Z

Article by: Audrey Cowling & Sanjana Dey

At the September 19th PACADA Retreat, we will welcome Dr. Tim Elmore as our Keynote Speaker. Dr. Elmore is the Founder and President of Growing Leaders, a non-profit organization dedicated to developing young leaders. He is passionate about understanding the emerging generation and helping adults teach them how to succeed.

In particular, his organization provides public schools, state universities, and corporations with the tools they need to develop individuals who can impact and transform society. The Growing Leaders team also equips young adults to take on real-life opportunities and challenges in the classroom, in their careers, and in the community.

Dr. Elmore has spoken to more than 500,000 students, faculty, and business leaders on campuses across the country. His expertise on the emerging generation and generational diversity in the workplace has garnered a wealth of positive media coverage. He is also the author of more than 30 books, including the best-selling Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future, Habitudes®: Images that Form Leadership Habits and Attitudes, Life Giving Mentors, and 12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid: Leading Your Kids to Succeed in Life.

Among his notable work, Dr. Elmore’s Habitudes allow for a new and refreshing outlook on the concept of leadership as it applies to the current generation of undergraduate students, one he refers to as Generation Z.  Dr. Elmore’s concept of Habitudes recognizes the value of visual imagery, especially within today’s technologically savvy society, and emphasizes the importance of these images with respect to informing leadership pedagogies. To learn more about how we can best work with the college students of today to create better leaders for tomorrow, please join us at the PACADA retreat on September 19th

**Click here for retreat and membership registration details**

**Click here for tentative Fall Retreat 2017 Schedule**

**Additionally, Raid your Closets! On-site at the Beck Agricultural Center the CCO will accept professional attire donations for the Career Closet! Attendees can drop-off items during check-in/registration in the morning and during the lunch hour.**

PACADA Retreat 2017 Tentative Itinerary

**Schedule Subject to Change**

Time Title  Description
8:00am-8:30am Check-In Registration Check-in, Light Breakfast (Coffee, Donuts, Bagels, etc.)
8:30am-8:45am Opening – 30th Anniversary Kickoff Welcome, Intro 30th Anniversary Items, News Reels, Recognizing Membership Activity
8:45am-9:15am Family Feud Fun Activity For All!
9:20am-9:50am Founders Panel 30th Anniversary Founding Members Panel
10:00am-10:50am Block #1 See Below
11:00am-11:30am PACADA Recruiting/Business Reports 30th Anniversary Edition; State of the Association &  Committee Reports
11:30am-1:00pm Lunch and Social Activities Honey Baked Ham Lunches, Outside Games, Board Game Room,
Tour of Phenotyping Facility, Yoga/Zumba
1:00pm-1:50pm Block #2 See Below
2:00pm-2:50pm Block #3 See Below
3:00pm-4:00pm Keynote Dr. Tim Elmore
4:00pm-4:30pm Closing Celebration Cake, Door Prizes, Final Remarks

Intuitively Strong: A Study of Strengths Implementation at Purdue University

Article By: Jessica Knerr, Veronica Rahim, & Chrystal Randler

You’ve taken the StrengthsFinder, right? Did you know there is a 1 in 33 million chance to find someone who has the exact same talent themes in the exact same order as you? Holly Englert, Associate Director of Advising in Mechanical Engineering, shared this interesting fact during an interview about Strengths Finder. In addition, both Cher Yazvac, Associate Director for Career Development in the CCO, and Matt Davenport, Assistant Director of Residential Life for Legacy Lane & Engagement, were interviewed about their insights regarding this topic. All three of these Purdue professionals are Certified Strengths Coaches!

Among the many ways in which this university is staying on the cutting edge of innovation, Purdue recently became a Strengths Campus and is working cross-departmentally to develop this novel model! Considering the national popularity and credibility of this tool, three members of the Communications and Connections Committee (C3) investigated trends, interactions, and resources by interviewing a variety of campus professionals who would know best!

Being a newly established Strengths Campus has several implications across the University, and each of the Coaches were able to touch upon what this means. In Residence Life, Matt Davenport shared that they “are implementing the philosophy of the Strengths into the curriculum.” Cher Yazvac highlighted that there isn’t just “one way for it to be integrated” and “the focus of what Purdue will look like could be different than other campuses.” It seems that there is an opportunity for campus branding so our institution can have a unique feel in how we create our identity as a Strengths Campus. Holly Englert also noted that this allows us to “go deeper with students and help them discover what their Strengths are and help them apply that in a way that can help them be successful in the classroom and in their career development.”
While some may think the assessment points people in a certain career direction, the truth is that it is designed to help you figure out how you do something, rather than what you should do. Instead of adopting this tool as a diagnostic for career paths, users should be aware the assessment is going to focus on helping them understand which approach they typically take in a given situation. These approaches (or Strengths) are not good or bad – they are neutral until a person puts an intention behind it.

Yazvac cautions people to remember that the bite-sized Top 5 Strengths are not the complete picture. Many people can operate out of their top 10 on a day-to-day basis. This is good news for those of us that feel as though we have a Strength that was not listed in the Top 5 of the StrengthsFinder assessment. It does not mean it is not used; it just means that some other Strengths may come even more naturally than the ones you previously thought.

Along similar lines, try not to think of your bottom Strengths as weaknesses. The 34 Strengths all have potential for you to use, but your bottom strengths may not come as naturally as other strengths do, and that is okay. This holds true even if you truly enjoy a Strength found at the bottom of your list. Davenport illustrates this occurrence by using singing as a supposed Strength: “Some people love to sing and even though they aren’t good at it, they do it anyway. Some people don’t particularly love singing but they are good at it. This is not too dissimilar to Strengths. Some things you may be good at but don’t love. Some things you may be bad at but love anyway. It’s tapping into an awareness of these personal tools and learning how to best harness them.”

The Strengths Coaches have utilized Strengths in a variety of ways. Conversations around Strengths are happening with students in groups, through classes and workshops, and in one-on-one settings, like career counseling. Englert has led Strengths workshops in ME 290. The CCO staff have gone into classrooms and residence halls, incorporating Strengths into career exploration workshops. Lessons on Strengths are also utilized in EDPS 105 and in workshops for fraternities, sororities, cooperative houses, and other student groups. In addition to using Strengths with students, staff in at the CCO, housing and dining, and other offices use Strengths for teambuilding and professional development. The opportunities abound to incorporate Strengths into work in student affairs.

A wide variety of resources exist for both advisors and students, which the three Coaches shared liberally! They include the following, many of which both advisors and students can use:

  • Strengths 2.0 Book (Downloadable e-Version access when Logged In on Gallup website)
  • Online Gallup Resources (Access when Logged In)
  • Purdue myStrengths Web Portal (4 Career Assessments under the “Resources” Folder and  within the “View Additional Resources” Tab among many additional links and resources)
  • Strengths Facebook Groups
  • Strengths YouTube Channel including Themed Thursday Podcasts
  • Access Purdue’s Certified Gallup Strengths Coaches for Individual or Group Interactions

We asked the interviewees what their Top 5 Strengths are and which ones resonated with them the most. Davenport said his are: Activator, Maximizer, Communication, Competition, and Positivity. Interestingly, he felt as though his 6th Strength, Woo, was the one that resonated the most with him. While Woo might be conceived as a manipulative or negative trait because it consists of “winning people over” (Gallup, 2017), it really comes back to the intention of the user. Provided the person employing Woo is operating from the “Balcony” and not the “Basement”, the Strength is a great asset to the person and employer.

Englert stated her Strengths are: Empathy, Developer, Positivity, Communication, and Input and that Empathy resonates most with her. She believes it drives who she is as an individual and is highly relatable to her other Strengths. The genuine connection she feels through Empathy gives her an edge within advising because she can understand when to push a student and when to back off.
For Yazvac, her Top 5 strengths are: Communication, Connectedness, Empathy, Strategic, and Maximizer. She feels as though all of these resonate with her. However, she has intentionally focused more of her attention to the Strategic strength. She believes by developing this strength, it will help her with her other strength, Maximizer.

We should remember that implementing StrengthsFinder is a learning process for the students, faculty, and staff at Purdue so there are going to be some questions along the way. Thankfully, Purdue has provided a solid foundation to our advising and student services community to help navigate this new tool. For those finding the process to be a bit overwhelming or a bit lost as to how to get started with Strengths, we recommend that you start with yourself. By learning your own strengths and how they affect your work, you can better help your students tap into their Strengths within their academics and future careers.

Keep in mind that Gallup and Purdue have additional tools for you to use that we previously mentioned in this article. Reach out to the Strengths coaches here on campus if you want to continue your education or have them assist in your curriculum. You can find them by visiting here:

We would love to hear how you are implementing Strengths in your work with students! Please feel free to reach out to the contacts listed below to let us know. We may contact you on future articles regarding Strengths methodology!

Jessica Knerr (
Veronica Rahim (
Chrystal Randler (

Midwest Association of Colleges & Employers 2016 Conference (MWACE)

Experienced by: Mandy Chalk

College is a big change for students; they are leaving home, family, friends, and routine.  At the MWACE 2016 conference, I attended a few sessions aimed at change and how one can handle change that were facilitated by Charmaine Hammond.  In Exploratory Studies, I am used to change.  Students come in and out of our program, students change their mind on what major to pursue, and colleges change their CODO requirements or plans of study.  However, students are typically not used to change.  They are accustomed to their daily routines, block scheduling, and family traditions.  Thus, we must learn and implement ways in which to help them embrace change in a new environment.

In the keynote speech, Hammond told a story of how she and her husband survived a sailing accident and what she learned from the experience.  She discussed how as “knowledge goes up, fear goes down.”  This can certainly be applied to our students.  As we educate them on their major options, their fear of the unknown and their fear of choosing a major will hopefully decrease.  We must be constantly learning about majors, careers, opportunities for research, leadership, scholarships, and anything else that might be helpful to our students.  Even if you are an advisor for one specific major or department, it helps to learn more about other programs and majors.  One can do this by attending PACADA meetings, networking with others, and paying attention to those emails we get from the Advisor listserve.  Yes, it takes time, but it can prove helpful to our students.  When referring students to other advisors, it helps when I personally know the person I’m referring a student to.  It helps when I can say, “I know so and so because we’re on a bowling league together,” or “See my friend so and so during his/her walk in times.”  Students’ fears will go down when you can personally refer them to your advising friends.  We are all in this together, and I hope to see more networking with others across campus in my future.  This also serves as a marketing plug for the PACADA Mentoring Program, which has matched me with two amazing professionals at Purdue!  I highly recommend this program, as it has helped me understand better the inner workings of the university and get to know two people on a more personal level.  Again, by putting into action what we tell our students to do (networking), we show them that their fears can go down whenever they have more knowledge.  We even assign our students in our Academic and Career Planning class to interview an upperclassman and a professional in a career that interests them.  This networking goes a long way in order to help students get more information about majors and careers that interest them.

Another important point is to learn how to disseminate that information through emails.  In Exploratory Studies, we have an Access database of the students we advise.  I can filter the results to only show the students that meet the criteria I select.  I can then send out emails to only those students who could benefit from the information.  Tailored messaging and knowing your students is key.  Plus, it helps educate them so they are less fearful of change.  When they get that information, you can ease their fears and let them know you are a resource of valuable information.

Another piece of advice that Hammond imparted during the conference was, “Your mindset creates your field of vision.  Choose your thoughts wisely.”  She emphasized the importance of having a positive attitude.  “What you focus on expands.”  If you’re constantly thinking negative thoughts, then those thoughts will manifest and ruin your day.  Start each day by framing your day in a positive light and encourage your students to do the same.  When something bad happens to your students, try to ask, “What went well?”  And then transition to asking, “What didn’t go well?  What would you do differently?”  This can help your students see the positive, but also learn from the situation.  Because sometimes, “the problem is how you view the problem.”

The same can be applied to us as advisors.  How do YOU view change?  For example, how do you view this new EAB software system?  Hammond says that most people struggle with the transition, not with the actual change.  Yes, the new software system will take some time getting used to it, but we must embrace change, just as our students must embrace change with changing plans of study, changes with majors, changes in CODO requirements, etc.  We should be setting a good example for them, because let’s face it, life is full of changes!

Hammond gave an example of a pot of boiling water.  If you put in a potato, it becomes soft and mushy and falls apart.  If you put an egg into boiling water, it becomes hard.  If you put a coffee bean in, it changes its form and creates coffee.  So which one are you when it comes to change?  Do you fall apart like a potato?  Do you become hard like an egg?  Or do you adapt to the situation like the coffee bean?  Let’s agree to become coffee bean advisors!

Finally, Hammond stated, “We can’t control our lives, but we can have influence.”  This really resonated with me, and I hope it resonates with you as well.  Even though you are not in control of your life, you are in control of your actions and thoughts.  I hope they are positive and helpful for not only your life, but for the lives of our students!

PACADA Statement of Support for Students

In this time of uncertainty and unrest, the members of the Purdue Academic Advising Association (PACADA) affirm the dignity and value of all students regardless of race, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation or national origin. We care about you and support you.

As advisors, it is our responsibility not only to assist you with course selection and registration, but also to direct you to helpful resources. Therefore, we suggest that students in need of support, in addition to contacting your academic advisor, look to the campus offices below (listed in alphabetical order) as needed.

If you experience acts of hate and bias on campus, we encourage you to report them to Purdue University Police as well as to the Division of Diversity and Inclusion through the REPORT HATE and BIAS link on

Asian American and Asian Resource and Cultural Center

Black Cultural Center

Counseling and Psychological Services

Center for Advocacy, Response, and Education

Disability Resource Center


Islamic Society of Greater Lafayette

Latino Cultural Center

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Center

Native American Educational and Cultural Center

Residential Life



Veronica Rahim in Purdue Today


Veronica Rahim, Purdue United Way Campaign spokesperson, delivers the keynote speech at the Victory Celebration on Wednesday (Nov. 16). (Purdue University photo/Rebecca Wilcox)

Purdue faculty, staff, retirees and students accepted the challenge of meeting the 2016 Purdue United Way goal by raising more than $778,647 for the campaign.

Purdue volunteers and community leaders of the local United Way campaign gathered Wednesday (Nov. 16) at Purdue Memorial Union to celebrate raising $778,647, or 101.11 percent of the $770,134 goal.

Pam Horne, Purdue United Way Campaign chair and vice provost for enrollment management, and Becky Hershey, director of Purdue United Way, made Purdue’s presentation.

They thanked Purdue volunteers for their dedication and highlighted special events held on campus to promote awareness and raise funds for the campaign.

“I appreciate the opportunity to lead the Purdue United Way Campaign through a significant change with ePledge and other initiatives this year,” Horne says. “I’m so proud to work with so many wonderful volunteers and community leaders. Purdue University once again has demonstrated its commitment to our community.”

Though the campaign tally is complete, contributions to the United Way are welcome at any time. Donations may be made by visiting

Molly Gilbert In the Spotlight: Purdue Today


This week, Purdue Today will offer short profiles of Purdue faculty, staff and students who are making a difference by volunteering at a United Way agency or program. Today, Purdue Today is featuring Molly Gilbert, senior academic advisor in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, who volunteers at Right Steps Child Development Centers, which offers early care and education, after-school care, and educational trainings, technical assistance and workshops on child development through The Child Care Resource Network.

How long have you worked at Purdue?

Five years, started in August 2011.

How long have you volunteered with Right Steps Child Development Centers?

I have volunteered for three years, starting in fall 2013.

How did you get involved with Right Steps?

Two former co-workers were members of the board, and the organization had decided to hold a 5K walk/run as its big fundraiser in 2014.  Before coming to Purdue, I was director of a camp for children with cancer, and we organized a 5K fundraiser each year. Knowing my history, my co-workers asked me to sit on the Right Steps Run planning committee. I have been involved ever since and even send our son to one of the centers!

What does your volunteer work with the group entail?

My involvement has grown over the years. I have been active in the planning process for the annual Right Steps Run 5K/10K, now in its fourth year. We meet regularly to plan the race from picking a date all the way to race day in April.  I have also recently joined the board for the organization, where we monitor and establish organizational policies and make decisions for the good of the organization.

Why did you decide to volunteer?

I am a huge believer in education, from birth through higher ed, and unfortunately there are a lot of children who do not receive quality child care and are starting their formal education behind many of their peers. One of the things Right Steps offers is four early care and education centers that operate on a sliding fee scale. This allows access to quality child care and education for families of all income levels. Right Steps believes that all children deserve quality child care and early education, and they work to make it available to the youth in Tippecanoe County. I am excited to be a part of that and to put my heart and soul into something so important. So when asked to help, I didn’t think twice about it.

What would you like to tell someone who is considering volunteering at a United Way agency?

Do it! United Way agencies are all working towards a common goal — to create change that will make our community better.  It’s a pretty amazing feeling to know you are volunteering for an organization that is making such an impact in your local community.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I am in a unique position because not only do I volunteer, but I am also a parent of a Right Steps child. I am in a center every day and get to see the impact the organization is having on our community. Children who may otherwise not be receiving early education are excelling socially and academically (and even getting regular health screenings!).  It is very rewarding to be a part of something like that.

We are always accepting volunteers. If anyone is interested in finding out more, they can contact me at

 How to help

The United Way of Greater Lafayette lists volunteer opportunities online on its Volunteer Center page.

Faculty, staff and retirees also may contribute to the Purdue United Way Campaign by going online and logging into the ePledge system. Donors can choose among several methods — payroll deduction, one-time credit card donation or recurring monthly donations, or by check.

Rita Baker and Nancy Kester Recipients of Special Boilermaker Award

Special Boilermaker AwardCongratulations to Rita Baker and Nancy Kester for winning the 2016 Special Boilermaker Award! The Special Boilermaker Award was established in 1981 to recognize members of the Purdue faculty or staff who have contributed significantly to the quality of life and/or the betterment of the educational experience for a substantial number of Purdue students.

Rita earned her undergraduate and master’s degree from Purdue University, and has been an academic advisor at Purdue since 1985.

“The best part about being an academic advisor at Purdue University is that the position requires talking with and getting to know great people. Can anyone ask for a better job description?”

See a story written about Rita in the Brazil Times, Rita’s hometown newspaper.

Nancy also earned her undergraduate and master’s degree from Purdue University. After serving as Purdue’s Assistant Volleyball coach for seventeen years, she became an advisor for Health and Kinesiology in 1995.

“I love meeting with students one on one, hearing about the exciting things they are doing on campus, in the classroom, and in the community or on study abroad trips, helping them navigate college and resources, and guiding them in developing a plan of study that will help them fulfill their personal and career goals.”

Take a look at historical winners to find more PACADA members.

Also pictured above: Chemistry professor and Special Boilermaker recipient Marcy Towns.

Written by Danielle Gilbert

Sue Aufderheide in the Spotlight: Purdue Today


Susan Aufderheide has guided the Exploratory Studies program at Purdue for more than 16 years. She also has been a professor in Physical Education and Health and Recreations Studies, an academic advisor in the College of Liberal Arts and director of academic support services in Intercollegiate Athletics.

What is Exploratory Studies and what is your role as director?

Exploratory Studies is a program that helps students discover the major that best reflects their interests, skills and abilities. With the guidance of our advisors, students are given the luxury of a non-pressured environment to explore their own interests, skills and abilities while exploring the over 200 majors at Purdue.

Each student is assigned to an experienced academic advisor who is familiar with all Purdue colleges/schools and degree programs. A course schedule is created for each student specifically tailored to their interests, skills and abilities, allowing them to fulfill general requirements, while exploring all that Purdue has to offer. A student can stay in Exploratory Studies for two years, but can declare a major at any time during those four semesters.

As director I am responsible for the strategic direction of the department and the implementation of its programs and services. I provide expertise, mentor staff and advocate across campus for the needs of the exploratory population. I also advise my own subset of exploratory students and teach a mandatory course for our students called Academic and Career Planning.

What is your favorite part of your work?

Working one-on-one with students. As an advising administrator, I believe deeply in serving both as an academic advisor and an instructor of our Academic and Career Planning course. I feel I am a much more effective leader if I experience firsthand the joys and frustrations my staff sees on a daily basis.

Does this program help students save money?

When students come into Exploratory Studies, they begin taking coursework that spans all of the majors they are considering. Once they decide which direction to pursue, they have already taken many of the courses they would need for that major.  They are well on their way to completing their degree in four years. If a student comes in decided and then makes a 180-degree major change, there is a good chance they have not taken the appropriate courses for their new major. This adds time and money to completing their degree.

What would you tell incoming freshmen about the program? 

Exploratory Studies is the place to begin you college career. Nationally 80 percent of all college students change their majors at least once. We give you time to explore the over 200 majors on campus while keeping you on track to graduate within your four-year time frame. While exploring you will have an amazing relationship with an advisor who has knowledge of you, your interests, skills and abilities, and all majors on campus and has time to get to know you and assist you on this wonderful journey.

Eighty-five percent of the students who started in Exploratory Studies never change their major once they leave our program. Students have taken time to explore themselves, their major and career interests. They make those major decisions based on fully vetted information.

What is your most memorable moment from your time at Purdue?

I would have to say being an academic support staff member of the 1999 national championship women’s basketball team is the most memorable. It was great being able to travel with and support the women in their academic endeavors as they made that historic run.

Writer: Megan Huckaby, 765-496-1325,

Erin Schultz and Christine Hofmeyer Win PACADA Advising Awards

The Purdue Academic Advising Association (PACADA) recently honored two academic advisors for their hard work and dedication to their students.

Outstanding Academic Advisor: Erin Schultz, College of Education


Professionalism, confidentiality, trustworthiness and accountability are the foundations for Schultz’s attitude toward all students that are fortunate enough to meet and work with her, said nominator Jane Dimitt, director of the Office of Advising and Recruiting for the College of Education.

Students often express how supportive and informative Schultz is as an advisor.

Schultz started her career as a school counselor at Wea Ridge Middle School. She later realized that she could use her skills to benefit a different set of students.

“As a Boilermaker and previously a school counselor, academic advising at Purdue was a natural fit for me,” she says.

Co-workers lauded her work mentality and commitment in letters of support.

“It is made clear through her actions that Erin sees her advising role as going beyond suggesting courses for a plan of study to include the work of mentoring, listening, supporting and encouraging her students,” says Jill Newton, associate professor of Mathematics Education.

Schultz has been a member of PACADA since her first year on campus and co-chair of the Communications Committee since 2014.

“I love being a difference-maker. I hope that I have made some sort of impact in the lives of my students, and that, as future teachers, they will be paying it forward,” she says.

Outstanding New Professional: Christine Hofmeyer, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Christine Hofmeyer

Hard work, willingness to learn and a strong desire to help students have marked Hofmeyer’s time as an advisor in the Office of Student Services in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, where she took on two roles: academic advisor and graduate program coordinator.

“Christine is very friendly and engaging with her students and they are comfortable talking with her and discussing their concerns,” says John B. Dunning Jr., professor and director of the Office of Student Services.

Hofmeyer has worked as an academic advisor for a little more than a year, but already knows the job was the perfect fit for her.

“I love to learn, so being employed at an educational institution is a natural fit for me. I love being part of the students’ academic, emotional, social and professional development plan as they progress through their college years,” she says. “I met my freshman and transfer students when they visited the university as prospective students, and I have assisted them with various issues during their first year at Purdue and have enjoyed watching their transformations.  I have learned from the ongoing experiences of my sophomore, junior, senior and graduate students.”

Hofmeyer says she became an academic advisor because she wanted to be more directly involved with Purdue students.

“I’m a people person and am driven by opportunities to serve others,” she says.

Writer: Megan Huckaby, 765-496-1325,


Learning Community Instructor Awards- Great PACADA Representation!

Purdue has outstanding academic advisors, many of whom go above and beyond their daily job responsibilities in order to serve their students and the greater Purdue community to the best of their ability. Many academic advisors also serve as Learning Community Instructors. Each year students are asked to nominate outstanding Learning Community Instructors and based on those nominations,  four LCIs receive the Learning Community Advocate Award. Of those four, three are academic advisors and PACADA members! They are as follows:

Sheila Hurt – Explorers LC

Julie Pluimer – The Nature of Wild Things LC

Cara Wetzel – Exploratory Studies Purdue Promise LC

In addition,  several other Learning Community Instructors were recognized with various awards. Among the winners, PACADA members were very well represented:

Exceptional Event Planner

Awarded to those LCIs who are especially successful at planning events that are engaging, exciting, and integral to student learning and development during their first semester here at Purdue.

Debbi Bearden – Krannert Direct Admit LC

Lora Goonewardene – Discoveries in Biology LC

Jamie Linville – Discoveries in Biology LC

Marsha Rhees – Discoveries in Biology LC

Karen Wiggins – Discoveries in Biology LC

Academic Connection

Awarded to LCIs who are especially successful at planning events and activities that directly connect classroom learning with hands-on experiences for students.

Michelle Mullen – Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences LC

Student Support

Awarded to LCIs who are especially successful at planning events and activities that introduce students to helpful resources on campus and provide opportunities for direct interaction for support.

Vicki Gilbert – Computer Science LC

Faith Giordano – Computer Science LC

Desiree Marmon – Computer Science LC

Real-World Experience

Awarded to LCIs who are especially successful at planning events and activities that offer introductions to various opportunities within their respective academic fields.

Julie Pluimer – The Nature of Wild Things LC

Congratulations to the award winners, and thank you for all that you do for the Purdue community!


*a special thanks to Justin Hamman, Assistant Director of Learning Communities, for providing award descriptions and award winners.

University Residence Hall Mediation






By Elizabeth Byers

The PACADA Communications Committee would like to thank Ms. Dorothy Hughes for her 16 years of dedicated service to Purdue students and the Purdue community.  She earned her M.S.Ed. in Counseling and Development from Purdue-Calumet in 1997. She came to Purdue’s main campus to start a PhD. in 1998. After two years in the Counseling Psychology Program, it became clear that her skills were clinical in nature, not research oriented.  Once she left the program, Ms. Hughes began working at two part-time positions: one as a half time Span Plan counselor in the Office of the Dean of Students, and one as a psychotherapist at a local mental health center.  Eventually, she became the full time director of Span Plan Adult Student Services and an Assistant Dean of Students.  Currently Ms. Hughes is working in University Residences mediating roommate conflict, training resident assistants and assisting the residential life director in developing a new leadership program.

Dorothy is a long time member of PACADA and served as the chair of the Professional Development Committee. She also chaired the professional development committee for the Office of the Dean of Students for many years. She served on several campus wide committees including as a Wellness Ambassador, APSAC Representative and Family Friendly Purdue. During her tenure at Span Plan she advised two adult student organizations: Alpha Sigma Lambda and the Purdue Adult Student Network.

Ms. Hughes’ goals include teaching students lifelong skills they can use with any kind of conflict throughout their lifespans.  Additionally, she hopes that the work she is doing to develop the leadership program will be a strong foundation for ongoing leadership development for residential life students.  Ms. Hughes is looking forward to retiring in June 2016!  Join us as we thank Ms. Hughes for her hard work and dedication towards student success at Purdue University.

John Gipson Awarded Outstanding New Professional Award from NASPA Region IV-East






By Audrey Cowling

Congratulations, John Gipson!

John Gipson, Recruitment Coordinator for the College of Health & Human Sciences, was recently presented with the Outstanding New Professional Award from NASPA Region IV-East (Region IV-East is comprised of Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the province of Ontario). The Outstanding New Professional Award is presented to one individual with no more than three years of experience within a professional position. The criteria for the award are: active involvement in NASPA and/or other professional organizations, innovative or creative programming efforts that address the needs of students at his or her institution, and outstanding service to his or her institution.  

John was also recently presented with The FreshMaker Award from the ACPA (American College Personnel Association) Coalition for Graduate Students and New Professionals, an award that recognizes graduate students and new professionals who bring fresh perspective, energy, service, innovation, and high levels of participation and contribution to their host institution.

 John is currently serving as Co-Chair of the PACADA Research Committee. He is also actively involved in a number of other professional activities, including: Co-Chairing the Research & Scholarship Committee for the NASPA Student Affairs Partnering with Academic Affairs Knowledge Community (SAPAA KC); serving on the Purdue Recruitment Council, Advisory Council on Equity, and HHS Recruitment & Web Advisory Committee; and serving as staff advisor for Men of Color in Human Affairs (M.O.C.H.A.). In addition to his professional work, John is also pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology, with a concentration in Quantitative Research Methods, from Purdue.

 Congratulations, John, and thank you for your hard work and dedication to student success!


Order your PACADA T-Shirt NOW!

If you would like to order a PACADA shirt, follow the simple instructions below by FRIDAY OCTOBER 2nd:

  1. Go to and click on view catalog (SM2015). In search type in one of these item #s to see the styles available:

K500, Men’s Polo for $18.35 XS-XL**

L500, Women’s Polo for $18.35 XS-XL**

K500LS, Men’s Long-Sleeved Polo for $23.35 XS-XL**

L500LS, Women’s Long-Sleeved Polo for $23.35 XS-XL**

**Add additional $2.00 per X for the larger sizes

2.  You can choose any color except red tones. Wonder why? Hail Purdue!

3.  Call 765-449-8463 and ask for Marti indicating that you would like to order a PACADA shirt

4.  Give her design #9568, the number of the shirt style, size, and color of the shirt you would like

5.  You may choose white, Vegas gold, or black embroidery

6.  Provide her with your Credit Card number

There is a two-week turn-around time. I will pick up all of the shirts and get them to their new owners.

Hope this works out well for everyone. You will have your outfit ready for every PACADA event!

Gratefully yours in PACADA,

Rita Baker — Membership Committee

Please email or call Rita with questions as needed at or Phone: 765-496-7912Hail Purdue!

PS:  Many thanks to our contact who has been the longtime keeper of our logo:  Marti Decker from Freckles Graphics, Inc., 3835 Fortune Drive, Lafayette, IN 47905 —, 765-449-8463





2014-2015 PACADA & NACADA Awards & Appointments

Amongst this busy STAR season, it seems appropriate to reach out and congratulate our very own PACADA & NACADA award winners.  Please join me in congratulating:

  •  The Purdue Career Advising Council (Colleen Brown, Kaletra Dispennett, Jennifer Fecher, and Brooke Lin) for winning the NACADA “Best in Region V” presentation
  • Colleen Brown, Exploratory Studies, for her “Outstanding New Advisor Award” from PACADA and NACADA
  • Rosemary Ricci, College of Health and Human Sciences,  for her “Outstanding Advising Award” by PACADA and “Outstanding Advising Certificate of Merit” by NACADA
  • Sue Aufderheide, Exploratory Studies, appointed to the Annual Conference Advisory Board of NACADA

Thanks to Purdue’s Today for recognizing our incredible Advising Community:,-honors-and-activities9.html

Self-Care Tips from NACADA Conference


This year’s NACADA conference included many interesting sessions.  One that seems very appropriate, especially going into STAR season, “When There is Nothing Left to Give:  How the Practice of Self-Care can Enhance our Work as Academic Advisors.”  This presentation was given by Amanda Clark from Grand Valley State University.  Check out the following drop box account for articles, resources,  and strategies:

Self-Care Link

Thanks, Amanda, for providing our profession with helpful self-care resources!