After a three-year hiatus comprised of virtual conferences, we were thrilled to reconnect in person in Madison, WI at the Pyle Center to “Bridge the Gap [and] Sustain Connections.” Our 2023 Annual Conference was our first time back in person since 2019 (at Gateway Technical College). With priceless window views of Lake Mendota, beautiful weather, gregarious speakers, invigorating sessions, much-needed connection, and surprise cameo from Bucky, this year’s conference was worth its weight in gold bringing energy to sustain us for the fall semester’s hustle and bustle.

Here are a few of the highlights!

  • Keynote speaker DeAnn Possehl, Assistant Provost of Student Success at UW-Parkside, enlightened us with HERA’s work to address structural barriers and equity gaps, and empowered us to leverage data in order to “[Bridge] the Gap through Proactive Advising and Differentiated Support.”
  • Kathy Paul (WAICU), Angie Kellogg (UW System), and Stephanie Glynn (WTC) each shared helpful respective high-level system updates – always helpful as we look to the year ahead.
  • Conference attendees enjoyed 13 enthralling concurrent sessions covering topics such as asset-based advising, building a communication plan, cross-campus collaboration, supporting Southeast Asian and Southeast Asian-American students, assessment in advising, elevating underrepresented voices in PWIs, and much, much more.
  • The UW-Madison Office of Undergraduate Advising and Career Services hosted an incredible rooftop social hour complete with delicious hors d’oeuvres, several belly laughs and photo ops with Bucky, and a stunning performance from UW-Madison acapella group Tangled Up in Blue. It was a perfect night!
  • UW-Madison’s K-Drama Club gave us all the energy we needed Friday morning by sharing their grassroots efforts to support the success of diverse undergraduate students through the exploration of language and pop culture (with emphasis on Korean dramas). We not only learned more about the experiences and inspirations from scholars in the group but we also shared in a transcendent celebration of our unique words. The scholars’ brightness rivaled that of the sun.

We also held our annual business meeting during which the Executive Board shared general updates, the members present voted on two items for the WACADA year ahead, and WACADA Awards were presented to fiercely dedicated professionals among our advising community.

Here are the highlights:

  • Professional development grants – we announced that we will be increasing the maximum award amount that members can apply for. Rather than three separate funding periods, we will award on a rolling basis, as applications come in and until allocated award dollars are awarded for the year. For more information, visit the Professional Development Grants page.
  • Key Votes:
    • By-Laws – WACADA By-Laws are reviewed and updated by the executive board on a biannual basis, and with a majority vote from membership. This year’s By-Laws update included several grammatical and vernacular changes for clarity and organizational flexibility, and was approved by the members via majority vote.
    • Institutional Membership – The proposal for the institutional membership option for WACADA was approved by majority vote. Implementing an institutional membership option to increase access to WACADA membership has been a Board goal for many years, and we are thrilled to be able to bring this to fruition. We have a lot of work to do this year to operationalize this and plan to share more information in the months to come, as well as provide space for your questions and discussion. More to come!
  • 2023 WACADA Awards – we had the honor of recognizing several members with various awards, as nominated by their peers. Check out our Awards page to celebrate this year’s winners!

Best of WACADA

Speaking of awards, we are pleased to share this year’s Best of WACADA winner, as voted on by members through the conference evaluation:

  • More Cooks in the Kitchen: Strengthening Advising Through Campus Collaboration” – Presented by Ericka Wade and Matt Petersen from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College

Congratulations to Ericka and Matt! Their presentation will be part of the NACADA Region V conference program, and we are excited for them to share their wisdom and inspire others in the region with their work.

What’s next?

Our Spring Professional Development is scheduled for February 9th and will be held virtually. Stay tuned for more details! We are also still figuring out plans for our 2024 Conference. Is your campus interested in hosting a future annual conference? Learn more about the benefits of hosting at your institution!

Thank you again and again to our conference presenters, the Pyle Center, the UW-Madison Office of Advising and Career Services, and our volunteers for infusing so much great energy into this conference. We also extend exceptional gratitude to our 2023 Conference Planning Committee for all of their time, creativity, thoughtfulness, and grit in planning out every inch of details for this year’s conference. It takes a village and this year’s village took on the Herculean task of bringing the conference back in person and in record time. Last but not least, thank you to all of our members: Without our strong, energetic, and committed WACADA members, our organization would not be what it is.