Campus News

Outstanding Advisers Honored

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 4, 2011) Two University of Kentucky academic advisers were recently honored with the Ken Freedman Outstanding Advisor awards. Professional adviser Jessica Baer and faculty adviser David Williams won the awards, which recognized their dedication and excellence in advising UK students.  

"This is our day to recognize people who generally don't want to draw attention to themselves," said UK Advising Network Chair Matthew Deffendall at the event. "They do what they do because it's the right thing to do."

Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education Mike Mullen presented Baer and Williams with the awards, noting that the addition of 20 new advisors for the 2007-08 academic year resulted in a 4 percent rise in student retention the following year.

"It proves that people do make a difference," Mullen said.

Baer joined the University of Kentucky as a professional adviser in 2007 and advises mainly biology students in the College of Arts and Sciences. She said her favorite part of being an adviser is working with the students.

"They make every day fresh," Baer said. "Just seeing how thoughtful they are, thinking about their futures and wanting to take advantage of all their opportunities. It's very inspiring."

Students who nominated Baer for the award described her open-door policy as an adviser, saying she is always there to talk to them. They praised her great advice on handling stress and called her dedication to each student "insurmountable."

"It's an unexplainable honor," Baer said of the award. "I'm so humbled by this. It's one of those things that you just treasure forever, to know that your students recognize the service you provide."

David Williams, an associate professor of Plant and Soil Sciences in the College of Agriculture, said he enjoys regular interaction with students and watching them succeed. Williams, whose research focuses on turfgrass science, was a practitioner in his field before coming to UK in 1997. He compared the satisfaction he gets from advising students with the satisfaction he felt when designing golf course turf.

"There is nothing like being on your golf course at sunrise or sunset, seeing how beautiful that is, and knowing that you are essentially responsible for that," Williams said. "Now, I get that sunrise and sunset feeling through my interactions with students."

In their nominations for the award, students cited Williams' willingness to put forth extra effort to help them. They added that Williams conveys his passion and love for his field.

The Ken Freedman Outstanding Advisor Awards are sponsored by the UK Advising Network and the Office of the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education. The awards are named for Ken Freedman, who served as a professional adviser at UK for 15 years before his death in 2001.

"Ken was an adviser when advising wasn't cool," said Susan Skees, chair-elect of the Advising Network. "He was an excellent adviser and an excellent listener for students."