Virginia Tech will host its fifth annual academic advising conference, Advising Matters, on March 6 at the Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center. The theme this year is, “Updating Your Toolbox: Advising Special Populations” to focus on today’s diverse student populations and their unique advising needs.

“Effective academic advising can be a critical piece of a student’s success, to meet their academic and career goals,” said Rachel Holloway, vice provost for undergraduate academic affairs. “We aspire to provide the support and guidance that helps all students thrive in the university environment.”

Special student populations include first-generation, first-year, international, and veteran students as well as students with disabilities, among others.

“As university student populations become more diverse, it is important for academic advisors to be aware of their unique challenges and needs,” said Kimberly Smith, director of University Academic Advising and conference chair. “This conference will enhance advisors’ knowledge and skills to create an inclusive and supportive environment for all of their students.”

The one-day event includes an opening session presented by Tom Brown, managing principal of Thomas Brown & Associates, LLC, and former dean of advising services/special programs at Saint Mary’s College of California. Concurrent sessions, activities, and lunch are also included on the schedule.

The conference is open to academic advisors at Virginia Tech, but also advisors from the region and commonwealth. The event is limited to the first 150 registrants. The cost is $35 for Virginia Tech-affiliated advisors and $60 for those from other colleges and universities. Registration closes on Feb. 20.

This year’s Advising Matters conference is one of the 86 initiatives proposed by senior leaders at Virginia Tech as part of InclusiveVT, the new model to advance inclusion and diversity efforts at the university. The model required every senior leader to submit at least three initiatives designed to tackle inclusion and diversity issues within their area of responsibility. Each initiative was made public in order to hold leaders accountable for progress.

In order to gauge success of the conference, a post-conference assessment survey will be completed in addition to a survey of the participants in the fall to assess how they applied knowledge gained through the conference in their advising practice.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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