Metropolitan State academic advisors recognized for excellence

During a ceremony on Oct. 3, four advisors were celebrated for their commitment to student success and engagement based on nominations by students.

Ping Wang, academic advisor in the university’s College of Arts and Sciences, has received the Excellence in Advising—Lifetime Achievement Award. The award, presented to an academic advisor who demonstrates continued excellence in serving students and best exemplifies commitment to the profession, has only been given five times during Metropolitan State’s 32-year history of recognizing exemplary advisors.

“The lifetime achievement award is an especially significant and rare honor,” says Kate Southwick, Metropolitan State’s advising services coordinator. “The fact Ping has been nominated by students almost every year, and again this year, demonstrates the tremendous impact she has on Metropolitan State students and compelled the selection committee to honor her.”

Wang has been with Metropolitan State a quarter century, 17 years as an advisor. Before assuming her current post last year, she advised students in the university’s College of Individualized Studies. Before that, Wang worked in a variety of positions, including university relations, admissions and multicultural student services.

“Advising, as a profession, is my career and destination,” says Wang, who has twice received Metropolitan State’s top advising award. “At the end of each day, I’m able to say that I have contributed a tiny little bit toward the fulfillment of a student’s day. And for that, I’m grateful.”

Wang, a native of Hunan, a mountainous province in southern China, grew up during that country’s Cultural Revolution headed by Chairman Mao Zedong. As with millions of others, she and her family were sent to a small rural village for about two years of “reeducation.”

She was among the first group of Chinese high school students who passed college entrance exams. Wang received a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Hebei University in northeastern China. After completing college and working for two years in China, she came to Minnesota and eventually enrolled at Metropolitan State for graduate study. She earned a Master of Management and Administration from Metropolitan State.

Wang is active in the National Association of Academic Advisors and the Chinese American Association of Minnesotans.

Stanley Hatcher, academic advisor in the university’s College of Individualized Studies (CIS), received the Carol C. Ryan Excellence in Advising Award.

“If I assist college students in acquiring the life and learning skills necessary to achieve their own definition of personal, academic and career success, then those students can pass on that knowledge to the next generation,” Hatcher says. “This leads to more knowledge, self-awareness and successful generations to follow, and builds educated and well-informed communities.”

Hatcher has provided guidance and support to CIS students for the past two years. Previously, he was an African-American student services coordinator and retention specialist at the university. Before joining Metropolitan State in 2007, Hatcher worked for 16 years in wide-ranging positions at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, including advisor and director of African American Student Services.

Hatcher received a bachelor’s degree in human services administration from Metropolitan State’s CIS. He earned an MA in health and human services administration from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.

Cindy Kaus, a College of Arts and Sciences associate professor, received the Carol C. Ryan Excellence in Advising Award. Kaus, who teaches and advises students in the Mathematics Department, joined the university’s Math Department 14 years ago.

“Many of our students have not previously been a part of the academic culture and as advisors, we need to guide them in successfully navigating the educational system,” says Kaus, who formerly chaired the math department. “We not only serve these students as advisors but also as mentors.”

Previously, she was an assistant professor of mathematics at the University of Minnesota and an electrical engineer for Honeywell Satellite Systems in Arizona.

Kaus has been bestowed with many recognitions and honors over the years. She previously received Metropolitan State’s Excellence in Teaching Award and the Elizabeth Shippee Award, which is presented for outstanding advocacy and service to university women. A J. William Fulbright Scholar who taught and researched in the Seychelles Islands, Kaus also received an Outstanding Professor Award at the University of Minnesota and was selected School of Mathematics Professor of the Year at the U of M.

She is active in the Mathematical Association of America, the American Mathematical Society, the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement, and Science Education for New Civic Engagement and Responsibilities.

Kaus has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz. She obtained a PhD in mathematics from the University of Arizona, Tucson.

Cynthia Olson received the Carol C. Ryan Excellence in Advising Award. She joined the university in 2014 as an academic advisor in the School of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice. She previously worked in advising and admissions at St. Catherine University, Saint Paul. Before that, she was a YMCA program director in student development and aquatics.

“Academic advising provides a platform for students to connect to an institution and an opportunity to develop personal and professional goals,” Olson says. “(Advisors’) purpose is to support the success of students. The advising process works best when the student and advisor engage in a meaningful dialogue related to their goals and achievements.”

She has a BA in in exercise science and biology from Augustana College, Sioux Falls, and an MA in organizational leadership from Saint Catherine University.

Olson is a member of the National Academic Advising Association and the American College Personnel Association.

From left- Stanley Hatcher, Cynthia Olson, Cindy Kaus and Ping Wang
From left- Stanley Hatcher, Cynthia Olson, Cindy Kaus and Ping Wang