Professional News

Education professor recognized for outstanding academic advising

Kayla Johnson
Kayla Johnson

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 14, 2023) — University of Kentucky College of Education Assistant Professor Kayla Johnson, Ph.D., received the 2023 Outstanding Advising Award from NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. 

The international competition is open to faculty who, in addition to their roles as teachers, have demonstrated qualities associated with outstanding academic advising of students. In the judgment of the selection committee, Johnson has consistent evidence of having a sustained institutional impact on students.   

“As a former first-generation and low-income student from Appalachia, I had no map to help me navigate to and through higher education,” Johnson said. “My own faculty advisors created that map for me and are why I am here today. Dr. Kathy Seelinger at Marshall University paved the way for me to teach abroad in France, introducing me to the wonderful world of international education. Dr. Willis Jones at UK shaped my fascination with higher education and championed me through my first research project. Drs. Dorothy Evensen and Karly Ford at Penn State coached me to be a critical cheerleader — someone who sees potential and helps others be their best. I owe so much to them."  

Johnson exemplifies the NACADA Core Values of professional practice, including proactively creating advising interactions with students, utilizing campus networks, and setting the highest standards for their advising practice while actively teaching. She leverages her role as a faculty member to create change and opportunity. 

"I am grateful that I can use my position as a faculty member to open gates in academia that are too often shut in students' faces — gates I could never have entered without the help of my own faculty advisors,” she said. “This award is extra special to me because so many of my students are advisors themselves. To be recognized for my advising by those who are experts in it — I don't know how anything will ever top this." 

Johnson was honored and presented with the award during the 2023 NACADA Annual Conference.  

Since 1983, NACADA has honored individuals and institutions making significant contributions to improving academic advising. The mission of NACADA is to promote quality academic advising and professional development of its membership to enhance the educational development of students. The organization represents and advocates for academic advising and those providing that service to higher education.  

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.