Academic advisors from across campus recently came together to gain knowledge, collaborate with colleagues, and find new ways to serve students.

Offered through Academic Advising Initiatives, the Academic Advising Academy is a semester-long hybrid (synchronous and asynchronous) training and development program for academic advisors at Virginia Tech.  The Academic Advising Academy is designed to help advisors (faculty and professional) — at all levels of experience — augment their advising skills. Through collaboration and discussion with cohort members and instructors, and guided independent assignments, advisors are encouraged to identify and reflect on the informational, conceptual, relational, and technological components of their advising practice.

Participants in the Academic Advising Academy spring 2020 cohort are as follows:

  • Julie Burger, academic advisor, Department of Geography
  • Ally Clement, academic advisor, Academic Advising Initiatives
  • Heath Furrow, academic advisor, Department of History
  • Kurt Hoffman, senior instructor and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Psychology
  • Maggie Johnson, academic advisor, Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering
  • Emily Metzgar, undergraduate academic advisor, Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering
  • Erika Perdue, undergraduate academic advisor, Department of Economics
  • Mohammad Sabbagh, academic advisor, School of Neuroscience
  • Allison Silknetter, project coordinator for the Transfer Experience LLC, Academic Advising Initiatives

Each cohort of participants is provided with the data, tools, and resources needed to conduct meaningful and relevant academic advising with students to assist in their success and transition to the university.

“We changed things up a bit for this cohort of advisors,” said Banks Blair, assistant director for academic advising initiatives. “Previous iterations of the Advising Institute had advisors coming together to learn for entire days at a time. Feedback told us that just didn't work well and we wanted to be sensitive to busy schedules, so we opted to meet more frequently for shorter periods and created online activities to stretch their boundaries."

Blair said the advisors who participated in this most recent cohort still learned foundational and advanced approaches to develop their academic advising competencies, but they were able to do so on a more flexible timeline, completing a bulk of their assignments online around their own schedules.

“Advisors expanded and applied their knowledge of academic and career advising resources and concepts, while working on ways to create more inclusive advising environments that better serve our students,” Blair said. “We also focused on professional development and self-care, which proved to be useful given our rapid move to the virtual advising environment."

Each year, the Academic Advising Academy is offered during the spring semester with cohorts ranging from 15-25 participants. Each is led by a small group of experienced dedicated individuals from across campus. Future sessions will explore opening enrollment to graduate students interested in student services careers.

There is no cost to participate and applicants will be able to register in December 2020 for the spring 2021 cohort. If you would like to participate in a future offering of the Academic Advising Academy, please contact Academic Advising Initiatives by email at

Written by Chenaye Blankenship

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