Student Success Center leader receives national honors for advising work

Billie Streufert is the executive director of Augustana's Student Success Center.

Getting Billie Streufert, the executive director of Augustana's Student Success Center, to talk about herself is a difficult task.

Instead of talking about her own achievements, she is much more likely to boast about Augustana's nationally recognized academic advising program, which received the Lee Noel-Randi Levitz Retention Excellence Award in 2018.

But Streufert's recent personal accolades are just as impressive. Within the last few months, she was selected to the National Academic Advising Association's (NACADA) emerging leaders program and received an award for best presentation at the Region 6 NACADA conference.

"The impact of Billie's work is so enormous," said Colin Irvine, Augustana’s senior vice president for academic affairs and dean of the university.

"It affects all of our programs and students, both on campus and after the fact. The impact of her work and the way she harnesses the great things happening in academics is really remarkable. These awards are the validation for her impact."

Streufert, who has worked at Augustana since 2014, said the university has made considerable efforts to embed academic advising into its curriculum. At many other universities, Streufert said it's common for students to meet with their advisors only once. At Augie, students, and especially freshman, get much more personalized support, including mandatory appointments with advisors, an "experience expo" where students meet with potential employers and first-quarter grade checks to ensure students are on the right track.

"Augustana makes significant investments in the lives of students through that advising," Streufert said. "It's an honor to be recognized nationally through the Retention Excellence Award, and it takes the collaboration of our entire dedicated faculty staff to make student success a reality."

Streufert used Augie's advising program as a foundation for her award-winning NACADA presentation, titled "Blazing a Trail Together: Advising Alternatives for Students Who Change Majors Involuntarily." Her presentation focuses on how to best advise students who are denied admission into their chosen academic program. In her presentation's abstract, Streufert highlights her goals for participants, which include "examining the ethics of initiating re-careering and major reselection and identifying practical strategies for parallel planning and alternative advising."

Streufert feels that adaptability is a key to surviving the ever-evolving professional world, and she hopes her presentation gives advisors the tools to help their students become more adaptable.

"The research was about helping students have peace of mind and launch their college career and job search confidently in [our]rapidly changing landscape," she said. "While others may have worked the same job their whole lives, that may not be the reality in the 21st century. We should not only be ready for potential changes, but also excited about it, especially given the enduring value of the liberal arts."

Streufert submitted her presentation to NACADA last October. While waiting for the opportunity to present it, she applied for the emerging leaders program in February and was selected about a month later. She will soon be assigned a mentor who will help her navigate and improve the organization through research and membership growth opportunities.

Streufert gave her presentation at the Region 6 NACADA conference, which was held in early May at the Sioux Falls Convention Center. Participants voted her presentation as the best at the conference.

"It was a humble honor knowing I walk among intellectual giants," she said. "Every time I go to these events, I learn about my colleagues’ amazing work. It's very humbling to be recognized."

Her top finish means she will now present the same program at the global NACADA conference in October in Louisville, Kentucky.

"I enjoy talking about these topics and find it energizing to connect with others who share my passion,” Streufert said. “We can digest the literature together to better support students and our institutions."

Irvine cited Streufert as a key ambassador of the university, one who works hard to improve the lives of students rather than bring attention to herself.

"Knowing Billie, [these awards] probably honestly don't mean much to her," he said. "She would do this without the awards. She will continue to be a tremendous leader and innovator. She is a driving force at Augustana and in this field of inquiry."

Katie LeBrun
Public Relations and Communications Specialist