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Advisor Institutes Build Confidence for New, Seasoned Advisors

As a Phi Theta Kappa chapter advisor since May 2014, Jaton Brame found herself needing an extra education on the ins and outs of the honor society. Enter the 2014 Advisor Institutes, and she now has a newfound confidence in her role.

"My excitement level has shifted for the better in serving as the chapter advisor," said Brame, advisor to the Alpha Upsilon Omega Chapter at Ivy Tech Community College-Richmond in Indiana. "Because of this shift, my zeal to ensure that the students are best served will become more evident in what I do throughout the year."

Phi Theta Kappa held two Advisor Institutes this year: September 12-13 near Dallas, Texas, and September 19-20 near Cincinnati, Ohio. More than 160 advisors and three college presidents from 32 states attended the free conferences, where a team of Phi Theta Kappa Headquarters staff members shared with advisors the tools and knowledge to help them and their colleges reap the benefits of a fully engaged Phi Theta Kappa chapter.

Sessions focused on the role of a Phi Theta Kappa chapter advisor and featured breakout sessions on such topics as College Projects, Honors in Action, and member benefits. And an overall look at Phi Theta Kappa as a partner with advisors and their colleges to help all students accomplish their goals was shared.

"We can all be so proud of our honor society's proven record of student success in all its many forms, such as scholarships, college completion rates, career achievements and lifelong-dedicated scholar servant-leaders," said Jennifer Stanford, Phi Theta Kappa's Chief Student Success Officer. "A great deal of this success is because of the work and unfaltering support of our chapter advisors."

Advisor Institutes are advisor-only conferences aimed at educating, engaging and supporting the nearly 3,000 Phi Theta Kappa chapter advisors. The success of 2013's inaugural Advisor Institute led to a second conference being added in 2014, and two Advisor Institutes are already being planned for 2015.

Phi Theta Kappa covers registration, one night's lodging and meals for all registered participants. The only cost to participate is transportation.

"It's an invaluable networking resource for a new advisor to learn more about Phi Theta Kappa, their role as an advisor, how their chapter can attain Five Star status in year one and beyond, and much more," Brame said. "I learned that Phi Theta Kappa is not a student organization, but an organization that focuses on student success."

Both new and seasoned advisors can learn from Advisor Institute. There is no formal training for advisors once they accept the role, and for many, it's a role that was appointed to them by their college administration or that they inherited from a retiring advisor. For most advisors, it's a learn-as-you-go experience.

"Even though I have been an advisor for three school years, I still feel very new at it," said Lisa Maple, advisor to the Alpha Iota Epsilon Chapter at Lincoln Land College in Illinois. "This conference is vital for Phi Theta Kappa. I can't even begin to explain how helpful it was, how organized and how much I benefited from attending."

In addition to learning more about her role, Maple found her confidence increase through her attendance of the Advisor Institute. Not only did she learn skills and ideas she could use to become an even better advisor, but she also felt like she was doing a good job already. And, that she could let go a little bit.

"My attendance has already benefited my chapter with regards to how I see my role and the role of the chapter officers by letting them take more leadership in decisions," she said. "This conference was one of the top three that I have attended in my entire life!"

Many of the sessions during the Advisor Institute in Dallas were filmed and will be shared online in the coming months. Dates for the 2015 Advisor Institutes will be announced soon.



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