By Jeff Murphy, August 18, 2023
WARRENSBURG, MO – When it comes to advising students on the best path toward a successful higher education experience, University of Central Missouri staff members have no shortage of recognition through state, regional and national accolades. Success in this area is once again being highlighted with Ken Schueller being named recipient of the Missouri Academic Advising Association (MACADA) Outstanding Academic Advising Award for an Academic Advising Administrator.
Schueller, who serves as senior director of student success, learned about his selection for the award during an email that he received from MACADA on Aug. 15. He was considered for the award based on a nomination submitted by one of his colleagues and other letters of support. The award will be presented during MACADA’s annual conference on Sept. 15 at UCM.
“This was a surprise – I didn’t even know I had been nominated,” said Schueller, who discovered that all of the members of the Success Advising Team, several UCM students and his supervisor wrote endorsements to support his nomination. “I’m feeling both humbled and overwhelmed by this amazing honor.”
MACADA is an organization that was created to help support the development and professional growth of Missouri’s academic advisors. As a way to recognize outstanding professionals in the academic field, MACADA offers an awards program that honors individuals whose primary role is academic advising, faculty members who teach and spend a portion of their time providing academic advisement services to students, and to individuals whose primary role is to administer or direct academic advising programs. Schueller exemplifies the type of administrator the organization seeks to honor.
Schueller is retired from the United States Air Force, and has served at his current post since July 2018. He joined what was then known as Career Services in July 1999 as an intern while still on active duty, and during the past 24 years at UCM he has held positions such as Director of Student Success, Director of Career Development Services, Director of the Gateway Advising and Major Exploration Center, Assistant Director/Career Counselor, and Career Counselor. As the department leader, he currently oversees three assistant directors, 18 academic success advisors, 22 academic success coaches, an office manager, and five office operations assistants.
Natalie Peirce, assistant director of student success at UCM who has been honored nationally for her work in advisement, nominated Schueller. She noted in 2018, while he was directing the Open Options program for undecided majors, he was instrumental in combining five decentralized advising areas into a unified Advising Center within one location that pulled together advisors on campus. This team of professionals created a proactive advising model which now includes three significant components, advisors, success coaches and faculty mentors.
“We worked hard under Ken’s leadership to create a new system of advising while maintaining our relationships with department chairs and program coordinators to enact this new model,” Peirce said.
“Ken relies on and trusts his leadership team. We pulled long hours figuring out the perfect matrix of majors that different groups would advise. We then went on what we called a ‘roadshow’ to promote our new center’s setup and functions to the campus departments,” Peirce added.
Schueller was among the first individuals in his office to become certified by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) to train coaches to become Certified Peer Educators. Every new coach must obtain CPE training, and Schueller’s office works with areas such as the Learning Commons and Center for Multiculturalism and Inclusivity to train tutors and peer mentors as well.
The university has experienced record retention rates under Schueller’s leadership, and he has developed a reputation as someone who administers with a personal touch by getting to know his employees and the students who visit his office.
“Ken employs management by walking around style: really preferring to see staff in person rather than behind an email. He is very open to critique and takes feedback from anyone in the office,” Peirce said. “We have numerous student employees that are trained coaches but are still students with busy schedules and he knows each of their names and their stories. His customer service is spot on.”
She added that as a former career counselor, Schueller built the Open Options program from the bottom up, and created the content and curriculum for Exploring Majors program that his office follows today. He has worked with the Alumni Foundation to secure funds for retention scholarships, and secured space for the Harding Student Support Services Center as part of a comprehensive college access and completion program for incoming freshmen, especially first-generation and low-income students.
Peirce noted, “The Student Success office’s vision is ‘Serving students equitably and holistically, building strong relationships to achieve academic success.' And I can say that Ken embodies this vision.”