First Advisor Institute Informs, Inspires

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Phi Theta Kappa’s first Advisor Institute for Maximizing Student Success brought 75 advisors from 21 states together for a closer look at Society programs and how they lead to enhanced student and chapter success.

Jeff Edwards, Phi Theta Kappa's Dean and Director of Regional and Chapter Development, leads a session during the first Advisor Institute.

The two-day advisors-only conference, which was held September 13-14 in Fresno, California, featured workshops for both new and seasoned advisors on such Phi Theta Kappa programming as Honors in Action, College Project, Competitive Edge and CollegeFish.org. Headquarters staff members also walked advisors through PAM, advisors’ online Personal Assistant Manager, and summed it all up for participants through a presentation on “A Year in the Life of a Phi Theta Kappa Chapter.”

“I was lost as a new advisor, and this conference helped me tremendously,” said Jeanie Clifford from Merced College in California, who began serving as a co-advisor in 2012 and is now a contact advisor. “I am looking forward to my chapter participating in the wonderful opportunities, and I can hardly wait for the next advisor’s conference.”

Brad Merritt, from the Alpha Rho Gamma Chapter at Washington State Community College in Ohio, has been a chapter advisor for four years. As a relatively new advisor, he said he has been looking for a way to grow and develop.

“For the past two years, I have wanted more formal training as an advisor; and as soon as I was notified this was being offered, then I decided to attend,” he said. “The bottom line is that I want to be a better advisor so that I can better serve my students.”

Merritt said the institute gave him a better understanding of the Honors in Action Project and the College Project — information he can pass along to his officer team as they prepare to submit Hallmark Award entries later this year.

“Moreover, it gave me greater confidence in understanding what Phi Theta Kappa is all about and what the Mission Statement is and what they expect from active chapters,” he said.

Merritt said he hopes the Advisor Institute will be continued annually, as yearly training could be beneficial for all advisors, not just new ones. Lorraine Goldberg, advisor to the Iota Zeta Chapter at Northern Virginia Community College-Manassas Campus, believes this could be taken a step further.

Goldberg sees the value of addressing advisor needs at various stages: an introduction to Phi Theta Kappa for new advisors; a discussion for existing advisors to learn how their colleagues are engaging with Phi Theta Kappa on both an administrative and a membership level; and an opportunity for Headquarters to provide updates on and best practices for more seasoned advisors.

Phi Theta Kappa Chief Engagement Officer Jennifer Stanford said receiving advisor feedback was one of the more valued results of the first Advisor Institute. Given the robust attendance and the “overwhelmingly positive” feedback, she noted Phi Theta Kappa is already making plans for a 2014 Advisor Institute.

“The Headquarters Staff Presenters learned as much from the advisors as they learned from us,” Stanford said. “The advisors-only conference allows us an incredible opportunity to hear from our advisors in a setting with fewer distractions than our other events.

“Thanks to the input we’ve received, we will be able to make the next Advisor Institute even better.”

Did you miss the first Advisor Institute? View presentations from the sessions at ptk.org on the Advisor Dashboard.