Excellence in Advising is bestowed by the Office of the Chancellor and the Teaching Council of the Faculty Senate to honor outstanding work in advising.
UT law students have a saying when they have a question concerning their career trajectory or curricular choices: “Talk to Kuney.” Professor George Kuney’s philosophy of advising is to provide an interactive process between mentoring and modeling, one that is both educational and uplifting for the student. Numerous students praise him for his generosity with his time and experience. “Professor Kuney did not just tell me that I could succeed, he gave me an opportunity to do so, and he supported me during each opportunity after,” wrote one former student, now an attorney. A prolific writer and researcher in the field of business law, Kuney has authored and co-authored scores of books, treatises, and articles. His many honors include the Carden Award for Outstanding Achievement in Scholarship (2007, 2016) and the Harold C. Warner Outstanding Teacher Award (2005).
Ashleigh Powers views each advising appointment with students as a teaching and mentoring opportunity. The care she takes with students is reflected in their growth, with one undergraduate noting that Powers “created a positive and secure experience” for her. Other students praise her vast knowledge as well as her “calm and funny demeanor.” Powers has served as coordinator of academic advising for the Department of Psychology since 2013. She also teaches Careers in Psychology and the Volunteer Experience. In her role as coordinator, Powers provides regular updates on the status of psychology undergraduates at monthly faculty meetings. She has been instrumental in forging alliances between professional and faculty advisors and works extensively with student advisees, helping them to adjust to university life, plan their course schedules, and find research and internship opportunities. In 2015, Powers won the department’s Outstanding Staff Award.
Barbara Thayer-Bacon, or “Dr. Barb,” as students affectionately call her, has helped 23 students complete their doctoral degrees in her role as a professor in UT’s Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling, where she has taught since 2000. Her current and former students point to her almost uncanny knack for knowing just how to mentor each one of them through the dissertation process. They note that Thayer-Bacon guided them toward meaningful research and exposed them to professional resources and opportunities. Thayer-Bacon provides judicious amounts of emotional support to students in the throes of writing their dissertation, particularly nontraditional students who are trying to balance rigorous academic research with child-rearing or those who have returned to academic study after many years. She also helps students with the next step in their careers: finding a job. “I went on the academic job market during the Great Recession,” said one recommender, “and I credit Dr. Barb with my career.”
Laura Trainer’s concern for students, knowledge of advising policies, mentorship of other advisors, and leadership make her invaluable to the Haslam College of Business, where she serves as advising coordinator in Undergraduate Programs. One recommendation letter noted the ease with which she is able to “accomplish many different tasks in the office without sacrificing the relationships she has with students.” She also “takes the time to get to know her students, supporting them, and challenging them when she needs to.” Trainer first came to UT and the college in 2002, serving as an academic advisor. In 2015, she became the advising coordinator. She sees her role as making students more independent and self-sufficient. In addition to her advisory duties, Trainer heads up the planning and coordination of Business Administration 100, the college’s first-year seminar course.