SRU recognizes Keller with 2020 President’s Award for Outstanding Academic Advising
Countless numbers of dance students have been advised by Jennifer Keller, a Slippery Rock University professor of dance, who received the 2020 President's Award for Outstanding Academic Advising.
July 29, 2020
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — Having served as a faculty member at Slippery Rock University for more than 22 years, Jennifer Keller has taught a countless number of students, but not to be overlooked are the many interactions she's had as an academic adviser.
"Advising is a way that you develop a sustained relationship with students over the course of their studies," said Keller, professor of dance and department chair. "It's a privilege that faculty get to advise their majors. It's just a wonderful opportunity to meet over time with a student who you might not necessarily have in class every semester."
Keller is the recipient of the 2020 President's Award for Outstanding Academic Advising. The award, created in 2014, honors extraordinary SRU faculty in their role as academic advisers. The award is based on student nominations and reviewed by an awards committee organized through the Provost's Office. The president selects the recipient based on the committee's recommendation of finalists.
"It's a huge compliment and a big surprise," Keller said. "Because it's based on student nominations and we're here to serve the students, that's the best award that you can get."
Keller typically advises between 25-30 students per academic year. Advising requires at least one meeting with a student per semester before they register for classes for the following semester; however, advisers may meet with students multiple times during a semester depending on their needs. Last semester, because of the coronavirus pandemic, advisers met with their students remotely on Zoom.
"To be a good adviser you always have to be thinking about how you could do a better job," Keller said. "What the students need one year, they might not have needed three years ago, and that's especially the case in this pandemic environment.
"The philosophies that I try to follow are to be available to the student, to be their ally and to really ask the student a lot of questions so that I can understand what they need from their perspective. I try not to impose my opinion immediately on the conversation."
Keller said advisers aren't just there to make sure students are taking the sufficient credits in order to graduate but to help them succeed and make referrals for support services like tutoring or counseling.
"A student's success depends on everyone at the University, so there are many facets to the way that we're helping students, and advising is just one part of it," Keller said.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, campus activities that include last spring's annual Celebration of Achievement ceremony were either canceled or postponed. Keller and other President's Award winners will be formally recognized at a later date. Other 2020 President's Awards were for Scholarly and Creative Achievement and Excellence in Teaching.
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