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March 2022 | DEB DOTTERER

 Today we're talking with MIACADA member and upcoming keynote speaker for the   2022 MIACADA Conference, Deb Dotterer. Prior to her appointment as director of   the SIS Transition & Operations, she served as assistant dean for university   advising at Michigan State University. Here Deb shares her perspective on   professional development and involvement with organizations such as MIACADA   and NACADA.

 How were you first introduced to NACADA/MIACADA?

 I came into advising in 1996 at Michigan State University. I was supported by MSU   to get involved in professional development which is how I came across NACADA. I   attended a regional conference and some of the annual conferences and then took a step forward and joined conference committees to plan upcoming conferences and review program proposals. I got involved with the steering committee as the Michigan liaison in the early 2000s. When I became the Michigan liaison, the executive director at the time came to speak during a conference we were having for Michigan advisors (MIACADA wasn’t around at the time). At that meeting he charged me with creating an organization for the state of Michigan since we were the only state in Region 5 without our own state organization. I gathered some of my colleagues across various institutions and a core group from MSU, and that’s how we chartered MIACADA. We wanted to make sure the state of Michigan had representation and that we were able to formally provide professional development to academic advisors in the state of Michigan. I continued to be involved in NACADA, becoming the Region 5 chair, always staying engaged in MIACADA membership, and attending as many conferences as possible with both organizations.

What challenges do you see with advisors seeking professional development opportunities and what advice would you give to individuals experiencing those challenges?

The biggest challenges are time, money, and support. I think it’s challenging as a new professional to go into a hiring situation and say, “I need financial support for professional development.” but I would encourage no one to shy away from that. What that says is that you value professional development, and you want your organization to value it as well. I think we’re often afraid to ask for that, but there are often organizations that can negotiate and maybe it’s not salary, but they’ll provide a certain amount for professional development. I know many of my colleagues have fully funded all their travel because they’ve never had support. I have been tremendously fortunate that Michigan State has supported me, and I know that. So, I would say at this point it’s being willing to invest. If you have to invest your own money then by all means lets look at every free opportunity that’s available whether that’s what your campus offers, what the region or state offers, etc. Do whatever you can do to get involved, even if it’s at a local or regional level you’ll gain from that, and you’ll gain from stepping up into leadership roles. You’ll get to meet more people by doing that and take responsibility for some things and learn as you go.

What advice would you share for balancing professional development opportunities, leadership roles, and/or committee participation with one’s own job responsibilities?

For me, part of it was having the support that I did to continue to be involved. The other part is that I was always willing to do the work outside of the typical 8am – 5pm workday. As a professional you must commit to your own professional development. Sometimes that commitment doesn’t fit within your “work hours.” Work hours nowadays, are a totally different thing. We work from home, we work nonstop. So, you can fit those things in during the day. When I was leading groups, I tried to have meetings during lunch hours. The work I did behind the scenes was probably done some during my office time when it allowed, but more often than not it was done after hours. That was my commitment to my professional development. I got great joy from doing it – engaging with people throughout the state, the region, and the globe. I’ve had opportunities to work with people all over the world through the organizations I’ve been involved with. To me that’s been a true highlight throughout my career – forming relationships and gaining different perspectives.

You have participated in a number of different mentorship opportunities through NACADA and MIACADA. Can you elaborate a little on those and what you’ve gained from being a participant?

I was encouraged to apply to be an emerging leader mentor through NACADA. My mentee and I had a wonderful experience and grew together. As a part of many conference committees for Region 5 and the Great Lakes region, we decided we wanted to have a mentorship program for the region so we started the Great Lakes Great Leaders mentorship program. We also had mentoring programs, which proved to be very successful, starting at the annual regional conferences.

It’s been a growth experience for me – learning how to help others grow in their profession, but it also helps me grow and think about how I approach things and how I’m doing my work. It’s very important for more seasoned professionals to give back and help young professionals move forward. These mentoring programs help us realize that the young professionals have just as much to contribute. Be willing to open your eyes and ears to listen and hear from their experience about why they chose to go into advising. To me, there’s nothing more valuable than a young professional’s experience and how that can be viewed from an advising lens – how did they do it? What was their relationships like with their advisor? More than likely it was a very positive relationship because they then decided to go into academic advising, but what was it about that relationship that made it so impactful to them? Being able to tease that out helps us build our skill sets going forward.

What professional development opportunities are you currently participating in or are you looking forward to in 2022?

My formal leading roles are on a hiatus if you will… I’m not engaged in any formal leading roles at the moment. I’m completing my term as the professional development committee past-chair for NACADA and I am still serving on the advisory committee for the Academic Advising Consultant and Speakers Bureau. We submitted a program proposal for NACADA Region 5 for past presidents to talk about our experiences so I’m certainly looking forward to that. I’m also really looking forward to keynoting for the MIACADA conference in May and speaking on collaboration which is something I feel I has contributed significantly to my career success. NACADA has amazing opportunities and they’re doing so much more virtually – the podcasts that the teams have are wonderful. They are great learning experiences. A lot of the communities are doing work to reach out through virtual professional development. We’re reaching far more people than we would have with in person events. Having said that, I can’t wait for the regional conference and the opportunity to see colleagues in person! I think NACADA is doing so many more things and especially with the focus on DEI initiatives. They’ve done some tremendous leadership training that I was able to participate in just last year. They’re putting such a strong positive focus on educating members and helping members develop but also helping provide members with tools so they can go back to their campuses and contribute to professional development of their fellow advisors.   

Are there any books you’ve read recently or plan to read in the near future that you would recommend?

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown


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