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Meet the Nicholas Evans Excellence in Advising Award Winners


In addition to the award winners, this year WVU recognized several faculty and primary role advisers with a Meritorious Recognition, signifying the quality of their application materials and highlighting the competitive field for this year’s awards.  

Here are the Meritorious Recognitions in both categories: 

Faculty Meritorious Recognition 

Dr. Annette Freshour, Teaching Associate Professor of Human Nutrition and Foods 

Dr. Beth Nardella, Associate Professor, Human Performance – Exercise Physiology 

Primary Role Adviser Meritorious Recognition 

Tyler Southerly, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Programs and Advising, John Chambers College of Business and Economics 

Dr. Samm Jusino, Director of Undergraduate Advising, Eberly College of Arts & Sciences 

Marilyn Munzer, Senior Academic Adviser, Statler Advising Center 

All winners and Meritorious Recognitions will be honored at the upcoming Academic Advising Celebration on April 23 at 4 p.m. in the Media Innovation Center on the Evansdale Campus. 


Faculty, staff honored for excellence in advising

Each year, at the direction of the Office of the Provost, the Academic Advising Council selects honorees for the Nicholas Evans Awards for Advising Excellence in recognition of outstanding advising and mentoring provided by faculty and professional advisers at WVU.

The awards are in honor of Nicholas Evans, a lifelong proponent and exemplar of undergraduate advising at WVU.

The 2024 recipients of the Nicholas Evans Faculty Advising Excellence Award include:

Kelli George, teaching assistant professor in the Division of Animal and Nutritional Sciences, Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design.

Described by her students as a very “hands-on” adviser, George said she believes in frequent communication and focuses on optimizing the educational experiences of her students. George supports transfer students, freshmen during New Student Orientation, and honors students, among others in the Davis College. She said she believes each advisee comes to WVU in a unique situation and works hard to ensure each student feels “heard, helped, lifted and treasured.” Notably, her empathy was a stand-out quality highlighted by the selection committee.

Mark Schraf, teaching professor in the Department of Chemistry, Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.

Schraf’s approach to advising is highlighted by two essential functions: listening and follow-through. He said he feels that by taking the time to do this first step well — listening — an adviser can build trust and ensure their student feels cared for and comfortable. Schraf provides support not only to Chemistry majors but also any student enrolled or considering enrolling in Chemistry coursework. He is known for his quick responses — especially during the advising period when students may be feeling especially anxious — and genuine concern for his students’ well-being. Three qualities noted by the selection committee included Schraf’s enthusiasm for advising, availability to his advisees and his willingness to follow up with them.

The 2024 recipients of the Nicholas Evans Professional Staff Advising Excellence Award are:

Amanda Baker, student success coordinator, WVU Institute of Technology.

On the WVU Beckley Campus, Baker is a visible fixture from the student success perspective. From advising appointments to campus-wide events, Baker’s presence has been noted by colleagues, students and their families. In fact, visibility is how she has fostered a community of inclusion, and Baker’s network of relationships around campus and the surrounding Beckley community have had a positive impact on the well-being of Tech students. Students have commented regularly on Baker’s remarkable organizational skills and compassionate nature. One student in particular noted, “Amanda does not see advising as just a job, but as an opportunity to assist students on their journey to success.”

Tara Robbins, student success coordinator in the Department of Geology and Geography, Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.

Though Robbins has only been an adviser with the Department of Geology and Geography since July 2022, her experiences at WVU stretch back to 2007. She has tapped into the wealth of institutional knowledge and relationships built during that time to restructure advising practices for the department’s students. Robbins’ advising space is best described as “lively,” ensuring students feel welcome and providing needed resources such as snacks and major-specific software. She communicates regularly with her students, from sharing updates on faculty research and internship opportunities to advising policies and birthday wishes. Department Chair Brent McCusker noted in his support of her file that Robbins “has completely and thoroughly transformed our department advising model into one that is already demonstrating success.”

The four recipients will each be awarded $1,250 for professional development and will be recognized during a faculty and staff awards reception at Blaney House later this month.

Find additional details about the Nicholas Evans Awards for Advising Excellence and past winners.

Nicholas Evans Award Winners