The Real "Unsung Heroes" of UKAT: Creating Positive Change for Senior-Level Advisors

Gavin J Farber (Temple University, USA)

Tuesday, March 30, 2021 1:30 PM - 2:15 PM

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Session Outline

In a competitive profession like higher education, rising to the top can be difficult. When promotions are unavailable to mid-level professionals, it can be challenging for them to feel appreciated in their role. Rediscovering the positive aspects to horizontal movements can afford greater appreciation for growth and development. This session will offer strategies to overcome your struggles and conquer fears of career immobility! Join the conversation to learn how you can forge a rich, rewarding career independent of the conventional “climbing the ladder” approach and can engage in your own #HorizonalBranding on and off campus.

Mid-level professionals working in higher education are often labeled the “Unsung Heroes of the Academy”. This concept was explored by Rosser (2000) who said, “...unsung because their contributions to the academic enterprise are rarely recognized and professionals because of their commitment, training, and adherence to high standards of performance and excellence in their areas of expertise,” (p. 5). This population is also the largest administrative group within the industry (Rosser, 2000, p.5).

This presentation will highlight the benefits and challenges of being a mid-level administrator in higher education. The presenter will use his personal experiences to serve as an anchor for defining and celebrating the “mid-level” administrator. The presenter will discuss while there are struggles to remain happy in a professional role, there are ways around them. The session will stress the importance to explore and empower a professional to explore new and pragmatic ways to redefine the career trajectory and retention of the primary-level advisor.

Johnsrud (1996) discovered three frustrations of mid-level administrators including, “the mid-level nature of their role, the lack of recognition for their contributions and their limited opportunity for career growth or advancement”.

The session will discuss all three of these topics and offer participants the opportunity to find solutions on how to overcome personal professional struggles. The presenters will offer strategies to assist in the beginning of assisting mid-level professionals to think about their strengths and what they might be able to offer their advising communities. The importance of open communication with managers will be a hallmark of the presentation because it will showcase the necessity of transparency to begin honest discussions about future movements a professional might be able to take on in their roles on their campuses.


Johnsrud. L.K. (1996). Maintaining morale: a guide to assessing the morale of midlevel administrators and faculty. Washington, DC: College and University Personnel Association.

Rosser, V.J. (2000). Midlevel administration: what we know. New Directions for Higher Education, 111 (3), 5-13.

This session addresses the following competencies of the UKAT Professional Framework for Advising and Tutoring
C1 - Core values of academic advising and tutoring
C2 - Theory relevant to academic advising and tutoring
C3 - Academic advising and tutoring approaches and strategies