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A Wealth of Knowledge Puts College Students at Ease

University of Missouri advisers receive statewide awards

October 21st, 2010

Story Contact: Christian Basi, 573-882-4430,

COLUMBIA, Mo. ­— College can be a confusing labyrinth of registration procedures, prerequisites and personal growth situations testing newfound independency. Advisers across the University of Missouri campus assist with these academic and personal issues on a daily basis, serving more than 32,000 students from the time they apply to college through graduation. The university has worked to strengthen the advising system during the past several years; those efforts were recognized at annual conferences of the Missouri Academic Advising Association and the National Academic Advising  Association.                                                                                                                                                                      

In the last 3 years, the University has worked to strengthen its advising system by adding 10 advising positions and developing an advising assessment plan. The results have allowed the campus to achieve a lower student/adviser ratio, even as the campus has reached record enrollments. Additionally, Mizzou academic advisers have participated in state and national professional development programs. Of the 1,185 alumni who graduated in May, 93 percent rated their education experiences as positive or very positive; 91 percent rated their out-of-class experiences as positive or very positive; and 89 percent rated their academic department experiences as positive or very positive, according to an exit survey sponsored by the University’s alumni association.

In addition to student satisfaction, the results of the university’s changes to advising were evident when a faculty adviser and two professional advisers were honored at the Missouri Academic Advising Association’s recent annual conference in Lake Ozark, Mo and a faculty adviser was honored at the National Academic Advising Association conference in Florida this year. The state association, with 131 members representing 27 institutions in the state, is one branch of the National Academic Advising Association, which promotes quality academic advising in higher education institutions.

George Jesse, who has served as the Division of Animal Sciences director of undergraduate studies since 2001, was awarded the Outstanding Adviser Award for Faculty Advising by the association’s selection committee. He was nominated by Division of Animal Sciences Director Rodney Geisert.

“Dr. Jesse will drop everything to help a high school or college student interested in majoring in Animal Science,” Geisert said. “After he visits with students, Dr. Jesse continues to correspond by letter and e-mail to follow up on any questions they might have following their campus visit.  Thus, he starts advising students before they even step in the door for their first class.”

Jesse also ensures freshmen enroll in the right classes, oversees 30 to 40 student internships, and helps numerous students find jobs. Jesse personally advises 50 to 60 students, but because of his personality and willingness, he probably works with an additional 20 to 30 students assigned to other faculty, Geisert said. More than 73 percent of his advisees indicated he was an excellent academic adviser. The MU Advisers Forum also submitted Jesse for regional and national awards through the national association.

Conference attendees also awarded Trulaske College of Business professional advisers Aaron Cook and Dan Nicewarner the Best of Conference Award for their presentation, “More than class schedules: Using visibility, technology and availability in advising to personalize our students’ experiences.” They discussed programming options and advising strategies for supporting the needs of 4,000 business students.

The National Academic Advising Association recognized MU faculty adviser Wayne Brekhus with a 2010 Outstanding Advisor Certificate of Merit for Faculty Advising.  Brekhus has been advising in the College of Arts & Science Department of Sociology for more than 200 Sociology majors since 2006. Brekhus has received several teaching awards and serves the university in several capacities outside of the regular classroom environment.