Three Academic Advisers Win National Advising Awards

Three academic advising professionals at UNC have won top awards from the National Academic Advising Association.

The 2006 Outstanding Advising Award winners from UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences are:

  • Carolyn Cannon, associate dean and director of academic advising programs, a winner in the academic advising administrator category;
  • Alice C. Dawson ’72, assistant director of academic advising programs, a winner in the academic advising primary role category; and
  • Dr. Todd Austell ’87, faculty adviser for chemistry majors, academic adviser for the sciences and research assistant professor, a winner in the academic advising faculty category.

Four awards were given in each category.

Cannon assumed the newly created position of associate dean and director of academic advising programs in July 1999.

“In the year that followed, she began a process that has transformed the face of advising at [UNC],” Bobbi Owen, senior associate dean for undergraduate education, wrote in a nomination letter. “She was put in charge of 13,000 undergraduate students and charged with transforming an advising program consisting of part-time faculty members into one that was staffed by full-time professional advisers. The transformation has been truly remarkable.”

Today, Cannon oversees 19 full-time advisers, 28 part-time faculty advisers and 11 support staff members. Another five full-time advisers will join the program next month.

Cannon began her Carolina career as an academic adviser in the college in 1985. Later, she became director of career planning and placement at the UNC School of Law. She also has been assistant and associate dean of academic services and associate dean of the General College, where most UNC students spend their first two years, fulfilling basic requirements.

Dawson joined the academic advising programs office in 2001 and was promoted in less than a year to senior academic adviser. She became assistant director in 2005. She has won UNC’s Mickel-Shaw Excellence in Advising Award twice – the maximum allowed under the advising program’s selection procedure. In addition to her undergraduate degree from UNC, she  earned her master’s from Carolina in 1994 and her doctorate in 2004.

“Undergraduates are asked to nominate their favorite adviser for this honor, and Dr. Dawson’s name has risen to the top of the list every time for the best full-time adviser,” wrote Nalin Parikh, assistant dean of advising programs, in a nomination letter.

Dawson previously was an adviser in the General College, associate director for academic advising in the study abroad office and a geography instructor.

Austell has received three University advising awards: the Mickel-Shaw Excellence in Advising Award in 1997, the College of Arts and Sciences Excellence in Advising Award in 1999 and the Class of 1996 Excellence in Advising Award in 2002.

“His work in academic advising is among the very best that I have observed in my more than 40 years in this area of service to undergraduate students,” Donald Jicha, professor of chemistry and former associate dean of the General College, wrote in a nomination letter.

Austell also has won top teaching awards at UNC, including a Graduate Teaching Award in 1990, a Students’ Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2002 and a James M. Johnston Teaching Excellence Award in 2004. He teaches general, organic and analytical chemistry. He also is a faculty adviser in UNC’s Johnston Scholars Program and directs the General Chemistry Tutorial Program.

In addition to his undergraduate degree from Carolina, Austell his doctoral degree from UNC in 1996. He has been a research assistant professor in UNC’s department of chemistry since 1998, when he also became an academic adviser for the sciences, and became an academic adviser and program director for junior and senior chemistry majors in 2001.

The National Academic Advising Association is a nonprofit organization of more than 9,000 professionals in academic and student affairs concerned with the intellectual, personal and vocational needs of students. The 2006 award winners will be honored at a conference this October in Indianapolis.

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