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Wal-Mart honors Nicholls advisors

THIBODAUX – Two faculty members from Nicholls State University received monetary awards from Wal-Mart on Thursday, Jan. 14, in recognition of their outstanding performance as academic advisors.

Todd Keller, assistant professor of nursing, assistant to the department head and coordinator of recruiting, retention, admissions and progression for the Department of Nursing – and Dr. Bruce McManis, professor of finance and head of the Department of Finance and Economics – both received awards totaling $2,000.

The Wal-Mart Excellence in Academic Advising Award recognizes full-time faculty members who spend a portion of their time advising students. Awardees must have completed or renewed master advisor certification within the three years preceding their nomination.

Todd Keller accepts the 2010 Wal-Mart Excellence in Academic Advising Award, presented by Dr. Robert Allen Alexander (right), director of retention and student engagement for University College and associate professor of English.

Keller is the liaison to University College from the College of Nursing and Allied Health, facilitator of the Master Advisor Workshop titled “Epistrophy: Organizing Advising at the College and Departmental Levels,” and a key figure in admissions, transfer advising and other academic support units.

“Todd is empathetic toward the students,” said Becky Lyons, assistant professor of nursing, interim department head and director of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. “He understands their monetary plight, such as their reaction to a closed section of a class; but more, he understands the journey toward the attainment of the ultimate student learning outcome, life-long learning.”

Keller’s advising philosophy states that advising “does not occur just within the boundaries of the campus walls, nor does it occur at a single meeting. Rather, advising occurs at any moment – random or scheduled. The aisles of Wal-Mart, the tables of Starbucks, deck chairs on a cruise ship, 35 seconds in the elevator, and cyberspace via e-mail and voicemail are all exceptional opportunities to make that connection and exhibit the importance of the student/advisor relationship.”

Dr. Bruce McManis accepts the 2010 Wal-Mart Excellence in Academic Advising Award, presented by Dr. Robert Allen Alexander (right).

McManis, noted for his work with admissions, transfer advising, athletic academic advising and other academic support units, is the liaison to University College from the College of Business Administration.

“Although I hold students to making their own choices, I won’t let them fall apart emotionally or make choices that won’t move them toward their goal,” McManis’ advising philosophy states. “It is kind of like teaching a child to ride a bike. I am the one that lets go of the seat after the training wheels have been removed to see what will happen. If they take off under control, I stand back with pride. If they are too shaky, I grab on again for a little bit, add some knowledge and encouragement, and then turn them loose again. Eventually they have the tools and the confidence to be in total control.”

Dr. John Lajaunie, professor of finance, nominated McManis for the award. “It would be fair and accurate to call him an ‘advisor’s advisor,’” he said.

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