Students Appreciated Her ‘Student-Centered Approach to Advising’

By Dr. Ken Zagacki, Department Head

It is with mixed feelings that I announce the retirement of Sandy Stallings. Sandy, a former faculty member in our department as well as its Director of Undergraduate Advising, will be greatly missed by all (please see the story in this issue for more about Sandy). However, she also moves onto another and equally exciting phase of her life.

Joining the department during the 1988-1989 academic year, Sandy went on to help our students, faculty and staff create a positive learning environment. She taught courses in Public Speaking, Interpersonal Communication, Business and Professional Communication, and Presentational Speaking,

Sandy Stallings Party

Faculty, students, staff and friends said goodbye to Stallings during a celebration held in the Caldwell Lounge in September.

Her concern for student learning, engagement and retention prompted her to participate in various university initiatives, such as the Alcoa II project on “Integrating Diversity into the Curriculum,” as well as the SACS accreditation review which was charged with submitting a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) to demonstrate the university’s effectiveness in teaching Critical and Creative Thinking to undergraduates.

In 2008, Sandy was selected as the Director of the Interdisciplinary Studies Self-Design degree. Here she used her Service-Learning training to transform the capstone class, IDS 490.

Sandy did all this excellent work for the university, but I appreciated her most as our department’s Director of Undergraduate Advising. In this capacity, she brought an unprecedented level of professionalism to the director’s position ─ not to mention she counseled literally hundreds of undergraduates every semester.

Several of these students reported that their best experiences in the department (if not in the university) were with Sandy, and that she gave them direction they found invaluable.

Many students commented about her remarkable “dedication” and “sincerity,” about her “caring” attitude and the fact that she always “has the right answers.” Some students even claimed they would have traveled great distances, returning to NC State just to talk with Sandy again and to seek her professional judgment. Students also appreciated the tremendous empathy she demonstrated when she advised them. They frequently referred to this as Sandy’s “student-centered” approach to advising.  As one student explained, “She seems genuinely concerned with my academic growth, as well as professional growth.”

Perhaps most telling of all is that Sandy’s administrative design ─ creating an advising team of knowledgeable and committed advisors ─ has served as a point of comparison for other advising units in our college. Her advising successes are, in addition, affirmed in her receipt of College, University, and national advising awards, including the CHASS Outstanding Advising Award, the Barbara Soloman Advising Award, and the National Academic Advising Association Certificate of Merit for Outstanding Advising.

Let me end simply by pointing out that whatever success I’ve had as an administrator in our department, I owe to faculty like Sandy. I speak for everyone in the department when I wish her all the best in retirement.