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NISTS conference honors game-changers in college student transfer practices

NISTS conference honors game-changers in college student transfer practices
Maria Miller, assistant director of articulation and transfer resources at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas, talks about her poster presentation; "Life Without Sports: Supporting Student Athletes in Transition," at the NISTS Conference in Atlanta.

The National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students (NISTS), based at the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Dahlonega Campus, hosted its 16th annual conference Feb. 7-9 in Atlanta.

Designed for higher education professionals, the annual NISTS conference is the only national forum that broadly addresses transfer research, policy and practice. Attendees are provided an immersive experience, reaching beyond the "whats" and "whys" to the "hows" of improving transfer practice, policy and culture.

The keynote speaker was James Montoya, chief of membership, governance, and global higher education and secretary of the corporation of The College Board, a nonprofit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity. Montoya addressed the important role of community colleges in providing a pathway to success for many of the most vulnerable students in higher education.  

Other highlights from the conference included a distinguished scholar plenary panel that explored community college transfers and practitioner panels that showcased new and relevant topics related to transfer students. Additionally, an innovative strategy session, a partnership between NISTS and the Washington D.C. based Education Design Lab, provided attendees with an interactive assessment of the conference experience to translate conference learning to tangible outcomes at the attendees home campus or organization.

NISTS also presented the Bonita C. Jacobs Transfer Champion Award in two categories to four individuals who have demonstrated exceptional advocacy and leadership in the transfer fields.

The award, named for NISTS founder and current UNG President Bonita Jacobs, recognizes individuals who are game-changers in the transfer field and have worked over time to make a significant impact at the institutional, regional and/or state level. Honorees have demonstrated evidence of leadership, appropriate risk-taking and disrupting of the status quo, along with using relevant research and theoretical frameworks to develop programs and services for transfer students.

Those receiving the Catalyst category of the award were: Barbara D'Auria Lerner, vice provost, Undergraduate Studies and Academic Partnerships and associate professor of Teacher Education at Texas Women's University; Lisa McIntyre, executive director of advising and student advancement and adjunct faculty member in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University; and Nancy Lee Sánchez, executive director of the Kaplan Education Foundation.

The Rising Star category recognizes individuals who make significant contributions in the early stages of their careers, creating or improving programming that is responsive to the specific transfer student population and shows evidence of success. The Rising Star Award honoree was Holly Herrera, coordinator of transfer advising at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The 2018 NISTS Research Grant award winners were Catherine Hartman, graduate research assistant, Center for Community College Student Engagement at the Charles A. Dana Center, University of Texas at Austin; and Jeffery Mayo, senior academic program coordinator, University of Texas at Austin, for their research "Examining Vertical and Horizontal Transfer Student Experiences and Identity Development at Four-Year Institutions in Texas."  

“One theme intentionally woven throughout the conference was sustainability. The award winners demonstrated sustained commitment to the transfer field and are fundamentally influencing institutional and organizational cultures established to support and study transfer students,” said Janet Marling, executive director for NISTS. “Nationally, we are engaged in a ‘transfer moment’. This year’s conference truly accentuated the synergy between practitioners, researchers, and policy makers, exemplifying NISTS’s vital purpose to educate and empower professionals so that transfer students thrive.”


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