Major steps taken to address departmental problems with academic advising

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Academic advisor suspended and new protocols implemented to better address students’ needs…

Georgia (Jun 5, 2015)Academic advisor suspended and new protocols implemented to better address students’ needs

KENNESAW, Ga(June 5, 2015) — Following a comprehensive review of the academic advising process in the Department of Exercise Science and Sport Management within Kennesaw State University’s WellStar College of Health and Human Services, officials have made several changes to improve academic advisement practices – including suspending Abby Dawson from her advising responsibilities.

The review was prompted by a complaint a student made about an interaction he had with Dawson on May 13, which was documented by the student on video and distributed via social media. Dawson was placed on administrative leave on May 15, pending the outcome of the review.

Conducted over a period of approximately two weeks, the review included interviews with 13 students, faculty and staff members. As a result of the review, the College’s advising process will undergo a complete reorganization, including:

  • Moving away from a department-administered model, and centralizing the academic advising process for the entire College, under the direction of Roxanne Donovan, currently the interim associate dean of Humanities and Social Sciences;
  • Student-service, diversity and cross-training for all advisors; and
  • Additional advising staff to ensure proper advisor-to-student ratios.

Dawson, who has been given a formal written warning, will be temporarily reassigned and will not be permitted to advise students unless she successfully completes training and demonstrates the ability to be sensitive to students and their needs.

“We have made it very clear to Ms. Dawson and her supervisors that the behavior she demonstrated on the video will not be tolerated; and while we have apologized to the student directly, we also want to publicly apologize for her behavior, which is not representative of KSU’s student-centered culture,” said Ken Harmon, provost and vice president of academic affairs. “While we in no way condone Ms. Dawson’s actions, we also acknowledge that we need to make some changes in our advising structure to provide more training and support for our staff so that they are better equipped to help our students navigate their college experience.”

Harmon added that improving academic advising is a priority across the university and will be the main focus for Kennesaw State’s new Senior Vice Provost John Omachonu, who will join the University on July 1. Omachonu currently serves as vice provost for academic affairs and chief diversity officer at Middle Tennessee State University.

“Our goal is to become a leader in the area of academic advisement. The bottom line is that we need to do a better job and, while we have some work to do, we want to be a national model,” said Harmon. “Already we have identified ways to improve our advising operations and ability to meet students’ individual needs so that we are doing everything possible to help them succeed in college and beyond.”

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Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering more than 100 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees. A member of the University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive university with more than 32,000 students from 130 countries. In January 2015, Kennesaw State and Southern Polytechnic State University consolidated to create one of the 50-largest public universities in the country.


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit