Recipients of inaugural undergraduate academic advising awards named

The new Excellence in Professional Staff Academic Advising Awards recognizes the critical work of front-line academic advisors in Cornell’s colleges, academic departments, and central advising units across campus.

Steph Cowling-Rich, Asst. Director of the Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives (OADI), , says the inspiration for the awards is “to elevate the work of professional staff academic advisors and highlight their integral role in undergraduate students’ experiences and success at Cornell.”

“The nominations and supporting letters came in from undergraduate students, co-workers, supervisors, direct reports, and faculty partners,” said Cowling-Rich. “I hope this communicates just how central advisors are in the undergraduate student experience and the deeply collaborative approach we all take to supporting our students’ success and well-being.”

In its inaugural year, a total of fourteen nominations were received, with ten nominees advancing to the selection process for two awards.

Awards criteria include dedication to belonging, equity, and inclusion; commitment to one’s own professional and personal development as an advisor; intellectual curiosity, particularly about research on student development; strong interpersonal skills; and adoption of best practices.

The 2022 Academic Advising Awards recipients are Catherine “Cat” Ramirez Foss, Advising Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, and Dr. Kristin Dade, Co-Director of OADI.

Ramirez Foss joined Cornell in July 2015 and has developed experiences in residence life, student organization advising, career development, and academic advising. She shared that “being an advisor is a way for me to honor those that have guided me while also being a resource for those who are navigating their own path.” She advises Higher Education Opportunity Program students, leads the Pre-Collegiate Summer Scholars Program for Arts & Sciences, and serves as a Student Disability Services liaison.

Dade is a proud first-generation college graduate who has been with Cornell since 2015 when she joined OADI as a Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) and Higher Education Opportunity Program advisor. Her advising work is community-minded, rooted in the teachings and theories of Black Feminist Thought and focused on making students’ dreams come true. She has served as a lecturer, advisor, instructor, and program director, but her passion is working with underrepresented and underserved populations in higher education.

The awards were made possible by vice provost Lisa Nishii, who serves as the executive sponsor for the university community of professional academic advisors. At the awards banquet, she told advisors that “it’s an honor to sponsor these awards because what you do as academic advisors really matters. It matters to students, faculty, parents and families, and to my ability to do my job well.” When reflecting about why it is that advisors are able to get through to students and help them navigate their way around challenging circumstances, give them hope for the future, and deliver tough love when they need it, she said, “it’s because you take the time to listen and use what you hear to help them problem solve, and you humanize your interactions by sharing stories about yourselves that they can relate to.”

Learn more about Cornell’s Professional Academic Advising Community (PAAC):

Read the story in the Cornell Chronicle.

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