CCACSA Officials Take Part in N4A National Convention

by Clyde Verdin
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CCACSA Officials Take Part in N4A National Convention

BATON ROUGE, La. – Last month in Orlando, members of LSU’s Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes participated in the 2015 National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics National Convention, leading a group discussion called “Recommendation for Rookies.”

The N4A has been in existence since 1975. At Michigan State University that summer, Dr. Frank Downing (University of Kentucky) and Dr. Clarence Underwood (Michigan State University) met to outline the development of the National Athletic Counselors Association (NACA). The current name, the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics (N4A), was adopted in 1977 at the second national convention in Miami.

Kenneth O. Miles, Assistant Vice Chancellor and Executive Director at LSU, was joined by Adriana Mason, Associate Director of Student-Athlete Services at Loyola University-Maryland, Judy Sackfield, Associate Athletic Director & Senior Women’s Administrator at Texas A&M University-Commerce, Natasha Criss, Associate Director at the University of Maryland, Kim Ross-Watkins, SWA at Morgan State University and conference president and Michelle Brown, Director of Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes at the University of North Carolina on the panel.

“This year’s annual convention served as a reminder that there is still much work to do. This is the sixth year that my colleague Ms. Colleen Campbell and I have submitted our proposal entitled, ‘Recommendations for Rookies.’ It has been well attended every year and this year was no different with standing room only signifying its criticalness,” Miles said. “The panelists and I who served as moderator define mentoring as a moral and a social obligation to assist new colleagues who have entered this profession. All of us recognize that the on-boarding can determine sustainability and retention within this profession, and it is vital to remind them of why they are important to the development of student-athletes.”

The standing-room only discussion was meant to give participants an in depth understanding of the profession as it relates to mentoring, collaborating with academic and student affairs, understanding the current climate, defining measurements, marketing their skills and strategic planning.

“I believe this session is necessary for new practitioners as it allows them to acquire more insight into our profession as they may ask questions and receive advice and mentorship from seasoned professionals in the field,” Mason said. “It is important to the growth and progress of our profession to continue to encourage young professionals to join our ranks and provide a sounding board for them as they begin their careers.”

This specific session has been around since 2008 when Miles and Campbell, Loyola University-Maryland’s Director of Student-Athlete Support Services, felt the need for there to be an orientation for new advisors, growing into a featured presentation at the conference because of the influx of new members.

“The ‘Recommendations for Rookies’ is a fantastic opportunity for new professionals in the field to get advice from a diverse group, ask the questions they really want to ask, and to network.” Brown said. “The panelists shared lessons they learned over the years in hopes to contribute to the building of a strong foundation for the attendees. In addition, each of the panelists is identified as a person to be called upon for guidance and mentorship. With so many new practitioners joining the field, this is a highlight of the convention.”

Along with the panel, the convention also selected new leadership and Miles was elected to the position of President Elect, while LSU’s Walt Holliday, the Director of Academic Affairs, was elected as the director of student-athlete development division, which includes ethnic concerns, life skills, honors & awards, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender ally and learning concerns & enhancements.

“We are truly blessed to have an opportunity to make an impact on someone’s life every day that we come to work,” Miles said. “We truly have the best job in higher education which is why I look forward to leading this organization as president-elect.”

The Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes is a 54,000 square foot facility comprised of academic affairs, student affairs and an information technology teams, serving more than 530 student-athletes. The purpose is to provide an all-inclusive, student-centered support structure for all student-athletes from matriculation, through graduation and life beyond.