Monday, March 21, 2011

Preview of the keynote

Late last week, I had the wonderful opportunity to chat with Peter Hagen, our keynote speaker. In addition to being an all-around great guy and self-described advising radical, Peter's understanding and knowledge of advising history and theory is inspiring. Maybe, if I bump into him at the conference, a little of that knowledge will transfer to me. If not, I'm sure to learn much during the keynote. By the way, did you know that he also plays guitar? A man of many talents.

Tell us a little bit about your keynote.
I’m planning to focus on the conference theme and talk about some of the ways we can draw on the past to guide us for the future. I’ll be starting off with a look at the Phaedrus, one of Plato’s dialogues, that centers on the core values of education. It’s also the first recorded instance of an academic advising interaction! Moving from the rather remote past to the 19th century, I next plan to focus on Thomas Jefferson as an educator. A polymath himself, education was something he regarded as of crucial importance for Virginia and for the new nation. Finally, I plan to focus on our own pasts—specifically our own educations—and how they might guide our future advising.
Where did the inspiration for this topic come from?
Well, the conference is being held in Charlottesville; Jefferson regarded himself as the “father of the University of Virginia”; it just seemed like a natural connection. Plus I wanted to do something with the conference theme. And Art Esposito inspired me by telling me about an Akan word, “sankofa,” that refers to taking what is useful from the past. So I’m titling the speech “’Sankofa,’ or, Back to the Future.”
What do you hope is the main idea conference attendees take from your keynote?
Even though we advisers are under many different types of pressure in our work lives—the pressure to keep up with the onrush of technology and the pressure to do more with less (to name just two)—we can’t lose sight of the things that make higher education worth having, the things that endure, the things that we want to teach our advisees.
Now, I also see that you’re presenting on hermeneutics. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Hermeneutics is a branch of philosophy that originally came about in order to study how texts could be interpreted. Well, as academic advisers, we send and receive texts all the time, except that usually they are verbal and not written. Another way of saying this is that advisers spend most of their days listening to and telling stories. Students tell us their stories and also how they might wish for the story to unfold in the next chapter. We advisers, in turn, often provide students with narratives of our own educational journeys. The correct interpretation of these texts, these narratives, is of crucial importance to the well-being and the education of students and for advisers to be assured that they are conveying effectual advice.
Why do you believe this topic is important for Region 2?
I believe it is important for any adviser to focus not only on the information to be conveyed, but also on the best way to convey it. We need to be attuned to how we interpret and how we are interpreted by our students.
What are you most looking forward to at the regional conference?
Region 2 rocks! In many ways we set the tone for NACADA nationally. I look forward to the exciting ideas that are shared between colleagues at Region 2. It’s a great way to recharge one’s batteries.

Session Title: Keynote Address with Peter Hagen
Day & Time: Thursday, April 7 @ 12:30

Session Title: Narrative, Metaphor, Hermeneutics, and the Education of an Adviser
Day & Time: Thursday, April 7 @ 9:45
Abstract: Regardless of your educational background, theoretical approach to advising, style of practicing advising, and the modality in which that advising takes place, you are always doing what you do through discourse. As advisers, our home is in the realm of language. We use language to enhance, acculturate, develop, educate, or inform the identity—the self—who sits before us. Thus, the more we can come to know about language and identity, the better we will be as advisers. This presentation will center on some of the anchoring concepts of language and identity: narrative, metaphor, and interpretation. I will argue that these concepts should be thought of as necessary parts of the education of any adviser.

Peter L. Hagen serves as Director of the Center for Academic Advising at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. He was the founding Chair of the National Academic Advising Association’s Theory and Philosophy of Academic Advising Commission, served as Guest Editor of the NACADA Journal for its Fall 2005 issue, and was a member of the task force that wrote “The Concept of Academic Advising,” now widely adopted by the NACADA membership. For NACADA he currently serves on the Journal’s Editorial Board, the Publications Review Board, and recently concluded his term as the Chair of the Research Committee. He won the 2007 Virginia Gordon Award for Service to the Field of Advising. He served as lead editor for a monograph, Scholarly Inquiry in Academic Advising, published by NACADA in March 2010.


  1. I just can't get over how unspeakably bitchin Peter is. I'm ecstatic he agreed to be our Keynote!

  2. Argh!! His hermeneutics session is at the same time as my session!! Curses!!