Daniel Nickerson, an assistant professor in biology at Cal State San Bernardino, has been named the recipient of the Excellence in Advising Faculty Advisor Award from the national organization NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising’s Pacific Region.
The NACADA award recognizes Nickerson’s work in advising students. The award is not his first recognition in advising. Last May, Nickerson was named CSUSB’s 2018-19 Outstanding Faculty Advisor.
The NACADA meeting that included the presentation of the award was originally scheduled April 23-25, has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and there is no word of when a formal presentation is planned.
Nickerson, who said he was grateful to his students and colleagues for nominating him and offering him support, said advising is about much more than advice.
“The most important part is how students can develop a dialogue with a faculty member that goes beyond what they are learning in class and can support them through their struggles and their transitions,” Nickerson said. “I try to help students feel comfortable being open about their goals, challenges, and where they are in life. There is no one-size-fits-all recipe for advising so everything starts with getting to know an individual. I think advising is mostly about listening.
Mike Chao, chair of the CSUSB Biological Sciences Department, said there was no more deserving faculty member of the award.
“He’s a tireless advocate and mentor for students – for their well-being, their academics, and their personal growth,” Chao said. “He really has a personal touch when working with students. Even in large classes he knows all his students by name, and students feel comfortable confiding in him.”
In a letter of support, Chao wrote, “In many ways, Dan is not so much an advisor; the fundamental mindset with which he approaches advising is as a mentor. In large programs with nearly 1,400 students such as ours, it is difficult to consistently mentor students day in and day out with all the other demands on faculty time.
“What makes Dan remarkable is the degree to which he melds this advising/mentoring role as part of his identity as a faculty member in higher education, and how he applies that to all aspects of his interaction with students - in the classroom, in the laboratory, in formal advising sessions, and in social settings,” Chao wrote.
Kim Cousins, chair and professor of the university’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, praised Nickerson’s dedication to students in her letter of support.
“Dan is very selfless when it comes to advising our unique population: nearly 80 percent are first generation college students; over 60 percent Pell recipients, and about 15 percent white, non-Hispanic (most of the rest classified at underrepresented minority students),” Cousins wrote.
“Dan reaches out to all the students in his upper division biology classes, inviting interaction during class, and strongly encouraging, using multiple strategies, them to visit him outside of class,” Cousins wrote. Dan frequently has a line out the door of students waiting to see him, attesting to his success in reaching students; this is unfortunately the exception, not the rule on our primarily commuter campus, and is evidence that his multiple strategies to engage student interaction outside of class is working.”
The NACADA promotes student success by advancing the field of academic advising globally. The group, which has more than 14,000 members, provides opportunities for professional development, networking, and leadership to its diverse membership.
The NACADA evolved from the first National Conference on Academic Advising in 1977, was chartered in 1979, and now has members representing all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada and several other international countries.
Members represent higher education institutions across the spectrum of Carnegie classifications and include professional advisors/counselors, faculty, administrators and students whose responsibilities include academic advising.
Along with advising, Nickerson’s primary area of interest is eukaryotic cell biology.
Nickerson was awarded a bachelor’s degree in biology from Kenyon College, a Ph.D. in molecular cellular and developmental biology from the University of Colorado-Boulder, and did further postdoctoral work in biochemistry at the University of Washington-Seattle.