UCAN Launch off to a running start
Blog post by Heather Smith-Watkins
The University of Calgary Advisors’ Network (UCAN) launched an ambitious program to over 120 enthusiastic and supportive advisors on February 23. The launch combined discussion and plans to enhance advisor skills, while also providing advice for health and well-being.
In a talk titled Refresh, Renew, Recharge: Advising for the Advisor keynote speaker Jan Crook, a counselor with the University Wellness Centre, focused on down-to-earth advice to advisors for taking care of their physical and mental health in order to provide the best service possible to students. Her address included funny and interesting personal anecdotes while encouraging advisors to examine their stress which she said often comes from personal perceptions.
Advisors then participated in round table discussions as part of a Boot Camp for Advisors. This activity was designed to stimulate conversations and share ideas, experiences and best practices and to explore solutions to common and not-so-common issues. The topics focused on maintaining an excellent standard in student advising leading to greater student engagement and satisfaction. The discussions also allowed advisors to network, build a supportive community, and brainstorm professional development ideas. Each group reported on their topics which included innovation, communication, discipline, goal setting and training.
Feedback about UCAN in general and the Launch in particular was plentiful and positive. Themes around the need for networking, communication between advisors from various areas, and up-to-date resources and contact information emerged as desirable and necessary. Advisors asked for more frequent opportunities to meet with colleagues formally and informally discuss solutions to common advising questions, learn about more effective use of technology, and discover professional development opportunities. Several advisors volunteered to work on the Steering Committee to provide a wider representation of advising staff and to create additional events over the next months.
It became clear to the UCAN Steering Committee that advising professionals at the UofC are committed to improving their skills and providing the most effective student support possible. UCAN is poised to contribute to the vision of Eyes High and to create a dynamic and unique professional development vehicle for UofC advisors.