Athens, Ga. – This year’s winners of the University of Georgia’s Outstanding Undergraduate Academic Advising Award are Wendy Dustman, a faculty member in the microbiology department, and Rebecca Baggett, an academic advisor in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.
The award is presented each spring to faculty and staff members who excel in helping students select classes and courses of study and assisting them with academic problems. The award also recognizes advisors for offering guidance on related matters such as decisions about graduate school and careers, and for helping students deal with non-academic issues.
Dustman, an assistant professor of microbiology, has been an advisor for five years and advises about 60 students each semester. She says one of her goals in advising is to help students find “formative experiences” outside the classroom such as internships and research opportunities.
Students say Dustman is accessible and approachable and builds strong personal relationships by getting to know their strengths, weaknesses and goals. One student said Dustman “offers a friendly face to everyone around her. She does much more than advising. She invests.”
Baggett has been advising for more than 15 years and is senior advisor in the Franklin College’s lower division advising office. She advises about 200 students each semester and leads the group of advisors for students pursuing bachelor of arts degrees.
One of her nomination letters cites Baggett’s “exhaustive knowledge about the majors she advises and her empathy for and enjoyment of students….Through her careful nurturance and guidance, students are able to see the potential in themselves as well as the possibilities for shaping a career with a major in the humanities.”
Students also praise Baggett for taking a strong interest in their personal lives and activities as well as their academic efforts. One student said Baggett “was able to impart the knowledge of researching, discovering and pondering; of slowing down and taking time before making a decision.”
Dustman and Baggett will receive a cash award and a plaque and will be recognized at Honors Day and at the Faculty Recognition Banquet.
Award recipients are chosen by a committee composed of a majority of students and chaired by a student. Other members of the committee are past winners, an advising administrator and a student affairs professional. The award is administered by the office of the vice president for instruction.