Photo of Advisers (See Caption)

In the last four years, MU advisers Susan Klusmeier, Wayne Brekhus, Trista Strauch, Aaron Cook and Kathleen Kerr have each been honored with Excellence in Advising Awards.

Award-winning advising continues at Mizzou

Kathleen Kerr joins list of MU advisers to earn NACADA honors.

Published on January 22, 2013

Academic advising at Mizzou is more than guiding students through their class work. Advisers answer questions about financial aid, assist students in identifying internships and help them with housing or other issues college students come across.

For the fourth-consecutive year, the work of MU’s advisers has been recognized by the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA). Kathleen Kerr, an adviser with Academic Exploration and Advising Services (AEAS) has been awarded the 2013 NACADA Region 7 Award for Outstanding Adviser in a Primary Role. NACADA Region 7 includes institutions in Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.

With AEAS, Kerr aids students in developing and accomplishing academic and life goals by finding a fit between the student’s interests and abilities and what MU has to offer. She works mostly with freshmen and sophomore undeclared students as well as pre-journalism and pre-communication students

“I feel my role is to serve as a guide for students as they begin their academic career,” Kerr says. “I also try to help students find positive solutions when challenges or issues arise that may impede their academic progress. It’s a big transition for a lot of students when they come to college. They are doing a lot of things on their own for the very first time and that can be overwhelming. I try to help them through that.”

Each year, Excellence in Advising awards are given by each region of NACADA in three categories: Primary Role, Faculty Role and Advising Administrator. Mizzou has had a least one winner in each of the last four years. A total of five MU advisers have claimed awards during that span.

“Our vision for advising at MU is to be a recognized institution for excellence in advising. It’s exciting to see that realized,” says Rachael Orr, senior academic advisor for AEAS. “We know great advising takes place in many offices and departments across the MU campus and it is important that it is recognized.”

The run of NACADA award winners from the University of Missouri began with sociology associate professor Wayne Brekhus earning a National Certificate of Merit in 2010. Aaron Cook, an adviser in the Trulaske College of Business, was the Primary Role honoree in 2011 and also earned a Certificate of Merit that year.

In 2012, Trista Strauch, an assistant professor in the School of Natural Resources and Department of Animal Sciences, won the Faculty Role award and Susan Klusmeier, who was an adviser in the Trulaske College of Business and is now MU’s assistant director of College Access Initiatives earned the Primary Role award. Both Strauch and Klusmeier were also presented the Certificate of Merit from NACADA.

“What is great about advising students is the one-on-one relationships and following students through their career on campus,” Brekhus says. “I teach courses and I enjoy that, but it is a very different dynamic to have the one-on-one relationship that is formed through advising.”

Academic advisers work with students on their journey through the university, serving as a support person and a resource. They help students explore the university, discover their strengths and create an individualized plan to help achieve their goals.

“The most obvious role is to navigate students through their courses,” Strauch says. “But I like to encourage them to think well beyond that. I try to get them to think about activities they can be involved in, about what job it is they want in the future and then we plan to work towards that.”

“I think the advisers here go above and beyond every single day to make sure students succeed,” Kerr says. “It speaks to how much advisers care about students and how much this university cares about student success.”

Kerr will be recognized at the Region 7 annual conference on Feb. 28 in San Antonio.

“Since day one, Kathleen always had my best interest in mind and led me in the right direction,” says Fatima Kahn, an advisee of Kerr, in a letter of nomination. “Kathleen is an amazing adviser and it shows through her successful students. Their priorities become her first priorities and their best interests become her best interests.”

For advisers at Mizzou, it is about helping students thrive while in college.

“What is really special,” Strauch says, “is watching students succeed.”