Temple Times Online Edition
    MAY 25, 2006
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Temple honors outstanding advisors

(Photo by Ryan S. Brandenberg/University Photography)

Honors Program director Ruth Ost (left), philosophy assistant professor Paul Crowe and University Studies Academic advisor Kristen diNovi won Temple's first Advisor Awards, created to recognize dedication and professionalism among the University's academic advising staff.

On May 2, the University held its first Advisor Appreciation Day and Awards Ceremony to recognize dedication and professionalism among the University's academic advising staff.

Shannon Gary and Chuck Allen, co-chairs of the Academic Advising Group, a council of professional advisors at Temple, worked with the office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies earlier this year to institute an annual recognition process for the University's academic advisors.

"[Academic advising] is helping to cultivate, nurture and fuel the academic, career and life goals of students," Allen said. "It's challenging students to do well, and encouraging them to get back up if they get knocked down."

Individuals were nominated and chosen based on evidence of their excellent interpersonal skills, nurturing attitude, mastery of institutional policies and positive impact on the overall quality of the department's advising.

Awards were given out in three categories: Faculty Advisor, Professional Advisor and Academic Advising Administrator. The awards include a plaque, a monetary prize and professional development funding. The names of the winners also will be inscribed on a memorial tablet in 1810 Liacouras Walk.

"While a certain few won awards that day, advisors in general were the big winners," Allen said.

Professional Advisor Award

Recognizes a Temple University employee whose primary job duties include assisting undergraduate students in academic progress through personal guidance, administrative counsel and analysis of the students' record.

Kristen diNovi

Academic advisor, Division of University Studies

Formerly a career advisor, diNovi made the switch to academic advising because she wanted to engage students earlier in the educational process. Since 2000, diNovi has counseled undeclared and pre-health sciences students in the Division of University Studies. Seeking to improve the status of advising throughout the University, she has served on committees and presented at conferences, stressing the value of using technology to better serve students' needs.

She holds a master's degree in educational administration from Temple, and is also working toward a Ph.D. in educational psychology. DiNovi's commitment to students led a colleague to nominate her for the award. One administrator noted that diNovi seeks out additional challenges and "brings to her work a spirit of innovation, thoughtful intelligence and dedication to excellence."

Advising philosophy: "To cater how I work with each student after truly getting to know what their needs are. There's simply no 'one size fits all' when it comes to advising students."

Faculty Advisor Award

Recognizes a faculty member for excellence in assisting undergraduate students with academic and professional progress.

Paul Crowe

Assistant professor and director of undergraduate studies, philosophy department

As an academic, Crowe specializes in 19th- and 20th-century philosophy. Here in the 21st century, he also serves as the pre-law coordinator and director of the Temple Law Scholars Program for the College of Liberal Arts.

Students from various disciplines seek Crowe's advice on law school admissions and career options. Since there is no defined pre-law track, Crowe's challenge is determining students' goals and motivation, and helping them decide if law school is right for them.

"I try to give them a realistic vision of what it's about, as opposed to what they see on television," Crowe said. "There are good reasons for going to law school, but some bad ones as well."

Students and colleagues alike have noticed Crowe's skillful expertise and encouragement as an advisor. One colleague said, "Students frequently credit him with helping them clarify their academic and professional goals, connecting them with the resources they need to meet these aims and offering astute advice for the legal profession."

Advising philosophy: "The role of the advisor must be to empower students; give them the tools to find themselves and connect with their academic experience. The challenge of advising is also what makes it interesting. You have to be interested in students' lives -- who they are and where they are going."

Academic Advising Administrator Award

Recognizes a Temple University employee whose primary job duties include supervising professional academic advisors and assisting undergraduate students with decisions affecting their academic progress.

Ruth Ost

Director, Honors Program

When Ost learned that she was nominated for the award, her own advice came back to haunt her. Just as she constantly asks students "What do you have to lose?" in seeking a prestigious scholarship or admission to a selective university, she realized that she too must take a risk and apply for the award -- if nothing else, it would be a valuable learning experience, which is what she promises the students.

Ost, director of the Honors Program since 1999, has amassed a legion of fans across the University for her accessibility, genuine caring and hard work on behalf of students. In addition to teaching and advising, she is the co-chair of TURF-CreWS and the director of the Diamond Scholars Program, serves on several University committees and is the University's representative for prestigious scholarships including the Truman, Marshall and Rhodes.

Students, faculty and staff seek her opinion on issues large and small. According to one former student, "Ruth is the go-to girl for critical analysis, honesty, encouragement and creative ideas. She always has someone patiently waiting outside her office hoping to get a nod of approval for their new project or ask her opinion on their choice of grad school. Honestly, what could be better than an advisor that students actually want to listen to?"

Outside the University, Ost's opinion is also highly regarded. She serves as a judge for the Udall Foundation scholarships, and she is an executive board member of the National Association of Fellowship Advisors.

Advising philosophy: "Advising is about helping students come down on the side of their own gifts and passions. It's about helping students find and tell their own stories -- and turn the unimagined into their lives."

- By Patti Truant