Grabowski, Vender named Excellence in Advising Award honorees

March 19, 2009

Barbara L. Grabowski, professor of education in the College of Education, and JoAnn C. Vender, coordinator of undergraduate advising and alumni relations for the Department of Geography in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, have been selected to receive the 2009 Penn State Excellence in Advising Award.

The award, established by the former Undergraduate Student Government’s Academic Assembly and sponsored by each college, annually honors one full-time faculty member and one full-time professional adviser from any Penn State location who have at least two years of advising experience. Selection criteria are based on excellence in general advising, academic and career guidance, enthusiasm and assistance in decision-making and goal-setting.

Grabowski, a faculty member in the College’s Instructional Systems Program, said her advising philosophy centers on being an involved guide; showing genuine concern, interest and respect toward one’s advisees as professionals and as human beings; and having a sense of presence in the students’ professional development to expand their understanding of the profession through direct experience in the profession.

“In order to provide guidance,” she added, “it is important to understand who the students are, where they come from, what their interests are. This means acting upon knowledge of students’ interests by being proactive in creating, forwarding and mentoring opportunities that go beyond coursework into professional practice. This also means being there when they need advice.”

Grabowski, who joined the College faculty in 1991, currently serves as president of the International Board of Standards for Training, Performance and Instruction. At Penn State, she has led two major research and design grants from the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). With assistance from the grants, she involves her students in research and development and provides opportunities for them to work on innovative higher education projects with faculty from different departments across campus.

Vender, who joined the Department of Geography staff in 2005, is responsible for managing the academic advising process of 160 undergraduate majors and 70 minors, and for coordinating course scheduling and faculty teaching assignments. She developed an alumni database for the department and assists in planning and implementing outreach/recruiting programs. As part of her responsibilities, she also advises student organizations and facilitates connections between prospective employers and students regarding career opportunities.

Vender previously was coordinator of student programs and service learning for the Schreyer Honors College, where she coordinated and supervised first-year orientation activities for 320 new students and 75 student mentors. She also supported service-learning initiatives on campus and for programs in Montana and Mexico and chaired the College’s Diversity Committee.

A former teaching and research assistant in the Department of Geography, she served from 1994 to 1996 as program liaison for the National Geographic Society’s Geography Education Program, providing technical assistance to state-based alliances of classroom teachers and university faculty working to promote geography education. She earned a bachelor of arts degree from Penn State and a master’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin.

Last Updated March 19, 2009