Annual Symposium

MUASAA's 7th Annual Symposium

"Supporting Students, Sustaining Ourselves"

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

8:00am - 2:00pm

Shriver Center JDOL Room

Symposium Schedule

8:00-8:10 am: Check in and grab breakfast

8:15-9:00 am: Welcome and Keynote

9:10 am – 12:05pm: Sessions 

12:10-1:00 pm: Lunch

1:00-1:30 pm: Awards

1:30-2:00 pm: Wrap up and hang out

Symposium Sessions

Time 60 Minute 25 Minute 25 Minute
9:10a-9:35a Using a Neurodivergence Lens to Academically Support Students - Christina Carrubba-Whetstine Supporting Students and Sustaining Ourselves Through Partnership - Sarah Meaney

Demystifying Referral to a Librarian - Laura Birkenhauer


See Them, Support Them: Supporting First Generation Student Mental Health - Connor Goodpaster & Ashley Jarvis

Let's get down to Business! Strategies for Maximizing Communication and Efficiency - Marcia Smith & Chanelle White
10:10a-10:35a Shifting Gears: Cycling to Personal Wellness - Conor Burns & Joy Usner Intrusive Advising: Questions to Ask to Discover Student Needs - Cassidy Abner Breaking Barriers - ALL Students Can Find Their Place Abroad! - Marnie Nelson & Sam Wood
10:40a-11:05a Advisors and the Growth Mindset - Keisha Norris Advances in Academic Support at Your Fingertips - Anytime, Anywhere - Ghada Mahdi & Heather Morrow
11:10a-11:35a Pulling Little Levers With LEGOs - Wyatt Bischoff & Nick Stanford Pandemic Pivots to Persistence: How an Office Survived for Their Students to Thrive - Golden Fanning & Jacqlyn Schott Roundtable - Erin Wahler
11:40a-12:05p Call Me Maybe: Building Rapport With Students Beyond the Meeting - J Ravancho Introducing the Honors Senior Project - Jordyn Clark & Teresa Radomski-Bomba

Session Abstracts

1st Set of Sessions:


Christina Carrubba-Whetstine - Using a Neurodivergence Lens to Academically Support Students (60 mins)

Students are coming to Miami University with a wide range of experience, academic preparedness, and neurological differences. To improve our interactions with and support of all students, it is imperative that advising and academic support professionals become better informed about neurodiversity as a paradigm and how students from diverse neurocognitive backgrounds experience education broadly and Miami University specifically. This presentation will offer (1) an overview of neurodiversity as a sociopolitical movement including terms and definitions, (2) an assets-based approach to understanding neurocognitive differences like dysgraphia, dyscalculia, dyslexia, Tourette's syndrome, ADHD, autism, and acquired neurodiversity (e.g. traumatic brain injuries), and (3) an approach to critically evaluating and amending practices to better serve neurodivergent students. Though much of the session will be didactic in nature, there will be opportunity to question, explore, and brainstorm ideas to improve practice. 


Laura Birkenhauer - Demystifying Referral to a Librarian 

When you think of academic support services on campus, does the library come to mind? If not, this presentation aims to change that! The library is not just a quiet place for students to study and librarians do so much more than buy books.  

Just as you might refer a student to the learning center for tutoring or to the writing center for writing support, you can (and should!) refer students to a Student Success Librarian... for a multitude of reasons. Student Success Librarians advise students in conducting research and creating citations for class assignments, and can help students take full advantage of all the Libraries has to offer. Student Success Librarians connect students to Subject Librarians with knowledge and expertise in their major, serve as guides to navigating library resources, and support the needs of students experiencing barriers in accessing the course materials and technology they need to succeed. 

This lecture presents case studies of situations necessitating referral to a librarian, and aims to encourage and demystify the referral process. The presenter will guide audience members in how to make an appointment for advisees to meet with a Student Success Librarian using Navigate. 


Sarah Meaney - Supporting Students and Sustaining Ourselves Through Partnership

The Office of Residence Life seeks to support students and our advising community by making the work lighter through partnerships. Come learn about the residential academic initiatives from this year which will feature an assessment summary of the campus-wide registration breakfast initiative. We will also discuss current ways our areas work together through Living Learning Communities and have time to brainstorm new areas of partnership. Participants will leave this session knowing how Residence Life supports the academic mission of the university and ways to establish new avenues for partnerships with the office.


Connor Goodpaster, Ashley Jarvis - See Them, Support Them: Supporting First Generation Student Mental Health 

Student mental health is a growing concern for academic institutions. As awareness of student struggles grows, higher education professionals may find themselves asking how they can best help their students. Academic advisors are not mental health professionals, but they are a common institutional contact point for students and (given the one-on-one nature of most advisor-student interactions, they may be more readily able to recognize when a student is struggling with their mental health. The one-on-one format also provides an immediate opportunity to engage that student in a conversation about it. For that reason, an advisor may be the first to identify struggling students. An advisor may be the first staff member to engage students in a conversation about their mental health. 

This presentation seeks to help Miami University academic advisors, faculty and other student-facing staff understand the common mental health concerns of a subset of college students: the first generation college student population.This presentation will start by providing common definitions of "first generation college student," highlighting the definition used by Miami University. Then we will move into a discussion of the common mental health concerns of those students. We will then provide examples of best practices that advisors can use to assist their first generation student population. Advisors are not mental health professionals, but there are steps that advisors can take within the scope of their duties and using their specific skills to aid first generation students.  

Attendees can expect to learn about several studies concerning first generation student mental health, the diversity of experiences within the first generation student identity, and practices that they can institute to create a positive experience for first generation students.


Marcia Smith & Chanelle White - Let's get down to Business! Strategies for Maximizing Communication and Efficiency

Effective communication and time management are essential components of successful academic advising. In today's fast-paced and demanding environment, advising staff are required to optimize their resources and be efficient in their communication with students, faculty, and colleagues. This presentation proposes practical solutions to optimize communication and time management to increase productivity and effectiveness in advising. The presentation begins with a focus on the Eisenhower Decision Matrix, highlighting the importance of identifying strategic priorities and working smarter, not harder. It then moves on to personal and professional development, emphasizing the need for individualized solutions that work for each advisor. This includes strategies like doing less better, saying no often, and avoiding majoring in minor activities. The presentation also addresses the role of technology in advising, with a focus on how to integrate practical data-driven solutions to increase efficiency and impact. The presentation proposes a three-tiered approach to communication that includes early alerts at the university level, continuous learning opportunities at the office level, and individualized communication plans with students. Lastly, the presentation emphasizes the importance of fostering great relationships with students, faculty, and colleagues. The presentation also highlights the importance of collaboration and value creation, including liaising with other offices, partnering with relevant organizations, and seeking faculty input. Participants will walk away with practical strategies to put into practice. 

2nd Set Sessions:


Conor Burns & Joy Usner - Shifting Gears: Cycling to Personal Wellness (60 mins)

"If you are not feeling well, how can you do well." This is a phrase I find myself often posing to myself, coworkers, friends, family, and also my students who share class and general life struggles. In the course of our work, we are often called upon to be a role model, advisor, and support to our students. Coupled with that, we are often playing similar support roles to those in our personal lives. With that in mind, it is especially important that we dedicate time and effort to our own wellness as it not only helps us sustain ourselves and flourish, but also has the knock on of allowing us to better support our students, and others in our lives, and be the resource they need us to be. This workshop will help you take your first steps in your wellness journey, by calling on you to reflect on your goals, defining them, and planning on how to work towards them. 

As mentioned, wellness can take different shapes and paths as it is unique to each person...just like bicycles! There are bikes for every type of occasion, event, goal, and terrain...just like there are different personal wellness plans for every person! Spoiler alert, I love bikes. Biking is something that helped me get back on track with my own personal wellness journey, after it was interrupted in the month of the year 2020. Utilizing my knowledge and love of bikes, I will help you understand and define your own wellness goals and then have you "build your bike" to set you on your path towards your current goals, while also helping you for the future when you want to build a new bike for a new set of wellness goals, or maybe even build a bike to last a lifetime! Join me in this workshop, and let's get you started on your path to wellness and maybe you can even help others build their bikes too one day!


Cassidy Abner - Intrusive Advising: Questions to Ask to Discover Student Needs

The way we phrase questions impacts the response we get from students. I will start with a game that is an adaptation of Ellen's Game of Games: Danger Word, where a partner gets to ask one question to get their partner to say the winning word. I plan to discuss how we as advisors can intentionally phrase questions during 3 key moments during the semester in order to really see how our students are doing and what resources they need. The 3 key moments I plan to discuss: Questions to ask at the beginning of the semester, questions to ask when exams are coming up, and questions to ask when you need to intervene. For example, "how do you plan to study for your ____ exam" tends to give us more insight than "how do you feel about this exam?".  


Sam Wood & Marnie Nelson - Breaking Barriers - ALL Students Can Find Their Place Abroad!

Traditionally, studying abroad was an experience relegated to the white, wealthy, elite students - historically, female students. The antiquated idea of the "Grand Tour" of Europe still persists today, particularly at a university like ours which is home to a large population of financially privileged students who, without outside resources, are able to spend a semester traveling abroad. Because of this, many less-fortunate students are left thinking, "I don't have the means to do that, so studying abroad isn't for me." We want students to know that study abroad IS for them, regardless of their financial means or identities. But how do we communicate this? What resources can we provide to help students achieve the life-changing experience of studying abroad? How can we, members of the community from all over the campus, come together to make this happen and build more opportunities for all students? Let's talk about that! 


Keisha Norris - Advisors and the Growth Mindset

A growth mindset describes a way of viewing challenges and setbacks. People who have a growth mindset believe that even if they struggle with certain skills, their abilities aren't set in stone. They think that with work, their skills can improve over time. My presentation will focus on ways to help students and colleagues identify better ways we can use and have a growth mindset in our jobs.


Ghada Mahdi & Heather Morrow - Advances in Academic Support at Your Fingertips- Anytime, Anywhere

The return to in-person learning in a post-COVID reality taught higher education institutions to become versatile and adaptable in an evolving academic world. Many triumphantly returned to classrooms and face-to-face courses became students' preferred learning modality. However, when universities transitioned their course content to various online platforms, students became accustomed to the flexibility that many of these platforms allowed. This yields the question: "How can a Learning Center provide flexible academic support in a manner that is easily accessible to students? In a post-COVID setting?" In this 25-min presentation, the facilitators will share their vision of expanding the academic support services of Rinella Learning Center to create a "database" or "digital library" of on-demand video tutorials focused on subject-specific area like CHM, BIO, MATH, ECO, ACCO as well as some top-skill topics that can be accessed by students anytime, anywhere. The facilitators will also share relevant updates for MUASAA and other campus partners about the creation of the new project "Rinella Academy" by the Rinella Learning Center to provide students with online video tutorials to be available 24/7. This workshop outlines the selection of relevant content material, creation of tutorial videos, the approval process that involved various academic departments, and the publishing of approved videos on various online platforms. Further, this presentation addresses how to incorporate the creation of content videos into a CRLA curriculum to provide tutors and SI Leaders additional opportunities to earn training hours. Finally, the presenters will explore potential barriers and discuss the anticipated impact of the tutorials. 

3rd Set Sessions:


Wyatt Bischoff & Nick Stanford - Pulling Little Levers With LEGOs (60 mins)

In this workshop, participants in small groups will identify problems, issues, and areas of improvement in our work as academic advisors at Miami University. Then, in the larger group, participants will work together to create meaningful solutions that they can implement on a small scale. This collaboration and problem-solving will be done using LEGO Serious Play. The goal is not to create immediate, sweeping institutional change. Rather, it is to get participants thinking about what they can do in their day-to-day work to make meaningful change on Miami's campuses to make the student, staff, and faculty experience more equitable and enjoyable for all in the community. "Rather than seeking single large levers to pull in order to promote change on a large scale, it may well be more effective to pull more small levers more often." (Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991)


Golden Fanning & Jacqlyn Schott - Pandemic Pivots to Persistence: How an Office Survived for Their Students to Thrive

In this session, two learning specialists/academic counselors will share how their office learned from pivot points navigated during the height of the pandemic that enable them to continue growing the number of students they serve exponentially. This growth has happened across all their services (academic counseling, peer tutoring, supplemental instruction); and alongside their office's support of an increasing number of students with testing accommodations and students on academic probation who take their Success Strategies course. As a Learning Center of Excellence, we'd love to share how our critical praxis has not only met the needs of special populations with increased help-seeking behavior from lingering collective trauma, but also fosters rapport, retention, and thriving students.


Erin Wahler - Roundtable


J Ravancho - Call Me Maybe: Building Rapport With Students Beyond the Meeting

Building relationships with students is always easier when you're able to interact with them more frequently, preferably in a face-to-face format whether it be in-person or online via Zoom/Meet. However, there is still a way to build those relationships with students via e-mail or phone. In this session, being able to connect with the students in "alternative" formats, will be the main focus. We will discuss ways to reach students using phone, email, Google G-Chat, etc. to help build rapport. For First-Generation, Racially Minoritized, LGBTQIA+, and students identifying other Special Populations, going that extra step in building community with them, can help strengthen that bond to their campus community in feeling supported.


Teresa Radomski-Bomba & Jordyn Clark - Introducing the Honors Senior Project

When the Honors College launched in 2021, we introduced a new requirement of honors students: the Honors Senior Project. This workshop will explain the Honors Senior Project requirement and the possible pathways for students to complete this requirement. Participants will be given time to consider the opportunities that exist for students in their departments/divisions.

Thank You to the 2022-2023 MUASAA Planning Team!

To join a MUASAA Planning Meeting, contact Jacob Drees


MUASAA Leadership

President: Jacob Drees, Farmer School of Business Global Business Programs

Treasurer: Madeleine Hood, College of Arts and Sciences Advising

Secretary: Anne Bonanno, Farmer School of Business Advising

Annual Symposium Committee:

Manages all details and logistics for the annual MUASAA symposium, budgeting, the call for proposals, and awards.

  • Patrick Dowling, Regional Campus Advising (Co-Chair)
  • Valerie Butterfield (Westin), Honors College Advising (Co-Chair)
  • Chelsia Potts, Office of the Provost
  • Connor Goodpaster, Farmer School of Business Advising
  • Irena Kola, Department of American Cultures
  • Laura Birkenhauer, University Libraries
  • Marnie Nelson, Education Abroad Office
  • Wyatt Bischoff, College of Engineering and Computing Advising

Community Development Committee:

Plans monthly community development events including selecting topics, securing speakers, and executing the event. Arranges new advisor welcome gifts.

  • Conor Burns, Farmer School of Business Academic Advising (Chair)
  • Ghada Mahdi, Rinella Learning Center
  • Keisha Norris, College of Engineering and Computing Advising
  • Matt Severson, Office of Exploratory Studies Advising
  • Tracey Hayes, College of Creative Arts Advising

Professional Development Committee:

Plans monthly professional development events including selecting topics, securing speakers, and executing the event. Arranges and picks up (as needed) catering for monthly events and secures thank you gifts for speakers. Annually distributes professional development survey to members.

  • Julia Pond, Regional Campus Advising (Chair)
  • Amber Lohrey, Regional Campus Advising
  • Christian Morrow, Honors College Advising
  • Ghada Mahdi, Rinella Learning Center
  • Jennifer Troutman, Farmer School of Business Student Organizations and Diversity
  • Jordyn Clark, Honors College Advising
  • Keisha Norris, College of Engineering and Computing Advising

Communications Committee:

Committee co-creates monthly newsletter. Each member is assigned an area of the newsletter to work on and submit each month. Committee members assist with MUASAA website updates.

  • Virginia Agee-Deaton, Farmer School of Business Advising (Chair)
  • Connor Goodpaster, Farmer School of Business Advising
  • Teresa Radomski-Bomba, Honors College Advising

Assessment Committee:

The purpose of the MUASAA Assessment Committee is to provide centralized assessment of any and all things related to advising. This includes, but is not limited to divisional, departmental, and individual advising; a climate survey evaluating the support advisors receive from their respective departments, divisions, and the university at large; and provide post-assessments for MUASAA-sponsored programs and initiatives. The goal of the committee is to create a culture of assessment and data-driven decision-making around advising on Miami’s campuses. The role of the committee is not only to administer these surveys, but also to conduct data analysis and create divisional, departmental, and individual advisor reports after all members have been IRB trained.

  • Nick Stanford, College of Engineering and Computing Advising
  • Erin Wahler, Honors College Advising
  • Jonathan James, Honors College Advising
  • Cory Duchesneau, Farmer School of Business Advising
  • Chelsia Potts, Office of the Provost
  • Jordyn Breast, College of Creative Arts Advising
  • Cathy Moore, College of Education, Health, and Society Advising
  • Eric Secor, Regional Campus Admissions
  • J Ravancho, Farmer School of Business Advising
  • Dr. Genesis Ross, College of Education, Health, and Society Advising