Two weeks ago, Martha Hemwall, Dean of Student Academic Services and adjunct associate professor of anthropology, learned that she would receive the National Academic Advising Association’s (NACADA) “Service to Commission Award.” According a University press release, “The Service to Commission Award recognizes individuals who have provided outstanding service, leadership, and commitment to a particular commission within NACADA in support of its efforts to enhance the development of students.”Hemwall was co-founder of the Small Colleges and Universities Commission, which now numbers over 500 people. She also served as the commission’s first chairperson from 1993-1996. According to Hemwall, who initially raised the possibility of starting the commission, it was established “because we felt that the smaller colleges didn’t have a voice in the organization, which was dominated by large multi-universities,” such as state schools. One of her priorities for the commission was to lobby NACADA to allot a fixed number of slots at the annual conference for reading papers relevant to small colleges. As a result of this effort, five to six slots at the conference are devoted to these issues.
Another of Hemwall’s goals for the commission was met this year with the publication of a monograph entitled, Advising and Learning: Academic Advising from the Perspective of Small Colleges and Universities. The monograph contains articles submitted from small colleges nationwide about student advising. The publication of the monograph was about six years in the making because, Hemwall said, NACADA “thought no one would want to read it.” Researching and co-editing the monograph represents a significant portion of Hemwall’s participation on the commission following her period as chairperson. She co-edited the monograph with a dean from Franklin and Marshall College.
Hemwall was nominated for the Service to Commission Award by the Director of Advising at Hope College, who is the current chair of the Small Colleges and Universities Commission. Two other commissioners, the Dean of the College at Franklin and Marshall College and the Associate Provost of the University of Denver, also sent in nominations in favor of Hemwall. Hemwall was unaware of her nomination until she was notified that she had been selected for the award. She will receive the Service to Commission Award at the NACADA annual conference, held this October in Cincinnati.
As for the results of her work on the Small Colleges and Universities Commission, Hemwall is pleased. “With the publication of the monograph and the establishment of specific slots on the conference schedule, I think that we [the Commission] have been reasonably successful in creating a voice for small colleges in the discussion,” she said, adding, “We’ve finally gotten to the point where we’ve created a role for our institutions in the national conversations about advising.