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Advisor of the month: September 2019

Richard Walker, September 2019, Advisor of the Month, Advising Matters at Virginia Tech.

Richard Walker

Biological Sciences, College of Science

What do you enjoy about your role in advising?
I enjoy helping students see the potential within themselves. My hope is that my efforts will not only enhance my advisees’ success while they are on campus, but will also make a meaningful impact long after they leave Virginia Tech, especially when they have the opportunity to serve as advisors or mentors themselves.

In what ways have you contributed to advising in your department/area?
I have served as a faculty advisor for undergraduate students for nearly twenty years. In 2007, I took on a greater administrative role as Associate Department Head and Director of Undergraduate Programs. Since then I typically worked with between 30 and 200 advisees each year. I have also been able to influence and improve department-wide advising for all Biological Sciences and Microbiology majors. These efforts have included restructuring advising loads of professional and faculty advisors to improve student-to-advisor ratios, recruitment and training of new faculty advisors, improved use of websites to share information with students, and improved coordination with other academic units. While directly working with advisees is more immediately satisfying, I believe my administrative efforts have improved advising for all our majors.

What advice would you give to other professionals who want to a make a difference in the life of their students?
Help find the best fit for the student. Students will be most successful where they feel most comfortable. This holds true for classes, majors and careers. Everyone can be successful somewhere, and an effective advisor will help find the best fit for their advisee, even if in another major or another university.