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Academic Advising & Student Success Conference


Building Bridges – Enhancing the Volunteer Experience

September 6-7, 2022

Thank you to everyone who attended this year’s conference. The Professional Development Committee is already thinking about ways to further enhance the annual conference experience for next year. More information will be forthcoming in early spring.

Location: Room 413 ABC

Ben serves as a member of the National Leadership Team aimed at advancing the concept of Appreciative Advising. In addition to teaching the Appreciative model at the annual summer institute since 2012, Ben has provided multiple training workshops, retreats, and other keynote opportunities. Ben has the capacity to adapt the framework to all offices within student and academic affairs, including student involvement, orientation, registration, residence life, athletic success, academic coaching, and admissions to name a few. 

Ben currently serves as the Chief Officer for Student Success & Academic Engagement at Saint Leo University in Florida. In this role, he directs the centralized campus advising center, supplemental instruction, tutoring, and peer coaching, all of which is rooted in Appreciative Advising. Over the years, Ben has consistently engaged in the greater efforts to help student retention and persistence. Ben is currently a doctoral candidate in Ohio University’s Higher Education program, focusing his research efforts on community socialization among female-identified NCAA student-athletes. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn to discuss Appreciative Advising and more. 

September 6 | Student Union 270

11:45 – 12:15 | Check-In

12:00 – 12:45 | Welcome & Lunch 

12:45 – 1:15 | Institution Overview

  • Organizational Structure 
  • Strategic Vision 
  • Division of Student Success 
    • Academic Advising  
    • Vol Success Teams 

1:15 – 1:30 | Break

1:30 – 2:45 | Campus Partners – Academic & Career Engagement 

  • Academic Success Center
  • Center for Career Development & Academic Exploration 
  • Honors & Scholars 
  • Undergraduate Research

2:45 – 3:00 | Break

3:00 – 4:15 | Campus Partners –Student Support Services 

  • Student Disability Service
  • One Stop Shop
  • Dean of Student Office 

4:15 – 4:30 | Closing Remarks


September 7 | UT Conference Center


8:30 – 9:30 | Check-In & Breakfast

Higher education professionals are continually presented with a challenge to increase enrollment and retention. Academic advising and other academic support services are in a position to directly affect student persistence and graduation. Through Appreciative Advising, advisors can develop deeper and more holistic relationships with students, which yield insights into a student’s academic journey. Thereby enabling the academic advisor to serve as a stronger advocate for their students and give better guidance and counseling to help students succeed. “Appreciative Advising is the intentional collaborative practice of asking generative, open-ended questions that help students optimize their educational experiences and achieve their dreams, goals, and potentials” (Bloom, et al., 2018). Participants will gain a foundational understanding of the six phases of Appreciative Advising.

10:30 – 10:45 | Break

Lowering Barriers to Engage Students in Undergraduate Research: A Collaborative Effort Between Tickle College of Engineering (TCE) and the Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (OURF)

Presenters: Rachel Ellestad, Kevin Kit, Erin Darby, Lisa Byrd, and Holley Linkous

Location: Room 413 ABC

Description: Undergraduate research is noted as a high impact practice that engages students in learning areas such as critical thinking, inquiry, information literacy, data collection and analysis and communication. Skills and knowledge developed through undergraduate research are beneficial for students seeking job placements in industry directly outside of undergraduate studies and for students seeking graduate studies. To better understand how to engage students in undergraduate research, TCE and OURF are seeking input on best practices related to (1) understanding the supply and demand for research opportunities, (2) supporting the student search process for finding research opportunities, (3) developing consistent training protocols for students beginning and continuing in research, (4) tracking student who participate in undergraduate research, and (5) tracking outcomes related to undergraduate research.

This session will outline current progress on the collaborative effort between OURF and TCE. The session will then actively engage audience members in sharing best practices from their home units on the objectives above. The outcome of this session will be an informal report summarizing the collective insights gathered at the conference.

Fostering Student Well-being; Infusing the PERMA Framework in the Advising Experience

Presenters: Krystyne Savarese and José Lee-Perez

Location: Room 400A

Description: Nestled in the university’s new strategic vision is the call to Cultivate the Volunteer Experience. While the measures focus on career readiness and student success outcomes for a variety of students, the underlying strategy behind this effort is a university-wide focus on student well-being. This session will explore why we are choosing well-being as a strategy, overview the PERMA theory of well-being, and offer examples for how to engage students using the PERMA framework.

Military Cultural Competency Education (Green Zone Training)

Presenter: Thomas Cruise

Location: Room 406 

Description: Green Zone Training is designed to educate and inform about the student veteran population at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. This training will cover topics such as connecting with student veterans, learning how the GI Bill works, strengths and challenges of student veterans, PTSD awareness, and the services available on campus. This training is designed to empower student veterans and services members, while understanding potential issues they may face while transitioning into higher education. Participants will learn about various resources on and off campus and will become an active partner in student veteran support.

Cognizance of Bias

Presenter: Ciara Gazaway

Location: Room 403

Description: This session is designed for professionals in higher education who are engaged in inclusive leadership practices or would like to learn more about being an inclusive leader. In this session we will discuss what bias is and how it can show up in our workplace and the world around us, reflect on the roles we personally play when addressing bias, explore practices of self-regulation and fair play, and share our thoughts and ideas on how to mitigate bias on our campus.

12:00 – 1:00 | Lunch

“My Advisor Won’t Respond to Me!”: Managing Student Expectations and Creating Healthy Email Management Strategies

Presenter: Christopher Kelley

Location: Room 403

Description: Do you work with students? Do you communicate with those students via email? If you answered yes to those above questions, then I am sure you’d agree with me that during demanding times keeping up with emails can be challenging. Over the past two years of being an academic advisor, I have quickly learned that email management is an important component of my work with students and supporting their educational, career, and experiential learning goals. In this part-lecture and part-discussion presentation, I will share ways that I have learned to manage student expectations and create healthy boundaries for myself, as well as provide a space for other professionals to share their perspectives and tips as it relates to practical email management strategies.

Bridging the Gap: Connecting Home and Campus Support Networks in Student Advising and Coaching Interactions

Presenters: Lisa Byrd, Rochelle Nelson, and Ashleigh Powers

Location: Room 413ABC

Description: Our presentation will review the results of our Spring 2022 survey to TennACADA members that sought to get a sense of how our campus community of advisors, coaches, and other student support staff views their interactions with families. We will review FERPA guidelines and interpretations, as well as offer possible avenues for handling the (sometimes enthusiastic) participation of hometown supporters in appointments or other interactions. We will stress the opportunities to collaborate with other campus resources and, finally, we will have a panel to consider best practices.

“Hey Vols!” A Student-Driven Information Video Series

Presenters: Rachel Duncan, Sonja Burk, and Jake Working

Location: Room 400A

Description: The ‘Hey Vols!’ informative video series was published in Spring of 2022 after a year-long process of idea generation and creation that relied heavily on working with campus partners. Advisors Rachel Duncan and Sonja Burk saw a need for quick, informative videos when continually answering the same common questions students have. Advisor Jake Working joined the effort and took the lead on video editing. Many campus partners were involved, including The Studio from Hodges Library, TCE and Herbert Communications, TCE and Herbert Ambassadors, and advising directors. Currently, the series consists of about 9 videos on a variety of topics, and advisors have frequently directed students to these videos this year, saving time and offering a friendly, consistent response. Plans are underway to continue developing content for more videos and also to broaden the themes to topics outside the field of advising.

Military Cultural Competency Education (Student Panel)

Presenters: Thomas Cruise and Student Panelists

Location: Room 406

Description: Join current student veterans at UT as they share their thoughts and experiences past and present as they embark on their own educational journey. Hear stories from their time in service, interactions with classmates and professors, and their thoughts on the veteran volunteer experience. Come with questions! Panel is open to all! Green Zone Training highly encouraged but not required. 

1:50 – 2:00 | Break

Featured Session: Developing Innovation through the Appreciative Mindset

Presenter: Ben Forche

Location: Room 413ABC

Description: That’s the way it’s always been done. A common phrase for anybody working in higher education. Innovation is one of the most challenging tasks in higher education, often met with resistance to change. Despite the resistance to change, higher education often reacts to the needs of society, albeit sometimes at glacial speed. Through the Appreciative mindset, we begin to look at opportunities differently, which often yield more support from others. This session will incorporate the six phases of Appreciative Advising into future planning and innovation. Participants should come with an open mindset and be prepared to engage in a Dream session about incorporating innovation into their work.

Bridging Majors to Careers

Presenters: Stephanie Kit and Jenny Ward

Location: Room 400A

Description: This program is customized for advisors who have joined the University of Tennessee in the past year to learn how the Center for Career Development & Academic Exploration can help advisors assist students with major to career connections. The presenters will share key resources and signature programs that help students identify and clarify their career options.

Collaborating to enhance support for diverse students at UT

Presenters: Talisha Adams and Stephanie Langley

Location: Room 406

Description: In this interactive presentation, colleagues from the Division of Student Success outline new and innovative programs aimed at increasing retention and graduation rates for first-generation students, low-income students, and Black and Latinx men at UT.

Cultivating the First-Generation Student Experience Outside of the Classroom

Presenter: Megan King

Location: Room 403

Description: Supporting first-generation students throughout their higher education journey means providing intentional, impactful, collaborative, and radical support measures both inside and outside the classroom.  In this session, the presenter will share goals and best practices that any staff or faculty member could implement to help aid in the support, retention, and success of first-generation scholars at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

2:50 – 3:00 | Break

3:00 – 4:00 | Academic Advising at UT, Knoxville with Dr. Leonard Clemons, associate vice provost for Student Success