Civil Engineering Academic Advisor Receives NACADA Global Award

Sophie Spratley, Ph.D., an undergraduate academic advisor in civil engineering, was awarded the NACADA 2021 Global Award for her dissertation on “Leadership Development Opportunities for Professional Academic Advisors of Color at a Predominantly White, Land-Grant Institution.” Her dissertation used a critical race perspective to acknowledge the racialized experiences and structure of academic advising within the predominantly white institution and explored leadership development opportunities for advisors of color.  

“I hope that my research gives voice to academic advisors of color and helps connect lived experiences and leadership development opportunities to better understand ways in which people of color can be supported at their institutions,” Dr. Spratley said. 

Findings reflect that the lived leadership development experiences of academic advisors of color interacted with advisors’ racialized experiences; representation of academic advisors of color in positions of advising leadership; and the language of diversity, equity, and inclusion forwarded by the institution. 

 In addition, she provided implications and diversity and inclusion recommendations for predominantly white institutions of higher education and academic advising leaders to better support advisors of color. She suggests that institutions must take a critical view of how racism shapes systems, policies, and practices. Dr. Spratley believes that having a shared definition and understanding of equity and advising competencies along with training in cultural competency across institutions will support advisors of color. She adds that institutions should hire more advisors of color and empower those advisors in the decision-making processes. Finally, she believes that by the university clearly defining the advising profession and the role of advisors, this will lead to equitable guides for hiring, supervising and promoting advisors. 

Dr. Spratley received her doctoral degree in Agricultural Education and Communication with a Leadership Development specialization from the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences this spring.  

“My hope is that further research will continue to focus on improving access and opportunity to leadership and professional development through education and communication. I believe that access to leadership and professional development with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion can foster accountability among colleagues and students in making equitable spaces within organizations, including institutions of higher education,” Dr. Spratley added.