Kimsey, master advisor for the department's undergraduate Animal Biology (ABI) program and an assistant adjunct professor, is the newly announced winner of NACADA's Outstanding Advising Award, Faculty Academic Advising.
Elvira Galvan Hack, student academic advisor for ABI, has received a certificate of merit in the highly competitive global category, Outstanding Advising Award, Primary Advising Role.
Both Kimsey and Hack shared the 2019 Eleanor and Harry Walker Advising Awards from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, for top faculty advisor and top staff advisor, respectively. The awards honor excellence and innovation in academic advising.
Highly honored by their peers and students, Kimsey and Hack earlier received awards in the NACADA Region 9 Excellence in Advising Awards. Kimsey this year won the UC Davis Outstanding Faculty Advising Award, and the Distinction in Student Mentoring Award from the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America. Hack was honored at the 2019 Staff Assembly's Citation for Excellence Program, receiving an honorable mention and a cash award in the Individual Service Award category.
Established in 1983, the NACADA Global Awards Program for Academic Advising honors individuals and institutions making "significant impacts on academic advising." The organization, comprised of 13,000 members, “provides a network and professional identity for the thousands of faculty, full-time advisors, and administrators whose responsibilities include academic advising,” a spokesperson said. NACADA' s vision is to recognize that "effective academic advising is at the core of student success." Its mission: "to promote student success by advancing the field of academic advising globally."
Kimsey, master advisor for the ABI major since 2010 and an ABI lecturer since 2001, “excels at teaching, advising and mentoring,” wrote nominator Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. “He sincerely cares about each student, and incredibly, remembers their conversations and their interests.”
Kimsey, who holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, wrote in part about his philosophy of advising: "In a broad sense, advising at the undergraduate level requires a good and objective listener, broad experience in life, a source of diverse perspectives to tackle any potential problem, an ability to put oneself in the other person's place, and really caring about and enjoying other people."
Kimsey's teaching philosophy: "I think that humans learn best together, where one person demonstrates the process or disseminates the knowledge to solve a problem to another person, and then together they solve the problem. The problem may be proximal and practical or abstract and conceptual. Following instruction, the teacher may participate with groups of students to solve problems, and there exist many other variations on teaching that adhere to this simple theme. But the principal components remain the same: demonstration or dissemination of knowledge followed by cooperative application. This is likely the most ancient of teaching concepts, and to the extent recent innovations in teaching method return to this simple process and replace simple lecturing, it continues to be the most effective."
Known for expertly guiding students toward career paths, and helping them meet challenges and overcome obstacles, Kimsey draws such unsolicited accolades on Rate My Professors as:
- “Dr. Kimsey is by far one of the best professors at UC Davis. His class never fails to entertain! You do need to put in the work to do well but it is very worth it! Dr. Kimsey truly cares about his students and wants to see them succeed and find a path that best suits them. Strongly recommend!”
- "This was the best class I've taken at UC Davis. You can tell that Dr. Kimsey really cares, and puts a lot of effort into his class.”
Elvira Galvan Hack
Hack, a UC Davis employee since 2011, has served in her position as student academic advisor for undergraduates in the Animal Biology program for 12 years. She is passionate about helping her students succeed professionally, socially and developmentally.
The students seek such careers as physicians, veterinarians, wildlife scientists or researchers. They are diverse: they range from first-generation college students to undocumented immigrants, and they span all socioeconomic levels.
"Elvira is likely the best academic advisor ever,” Kimsey wrote in the application. “Not only is she completely conversant with all the rules and regulations of the major, but understands the latitude of flexibility built into their application in a very human way. She is connected with all the administrative functionaries necessary to efficiently accomplish any task in a timely manner. For the confused or troubled student, she is the first and last resort for the solution of problems not only of an academic or administrative kind but those of a deeply personal nature as well. She keeps them on track, outlining their options, helping them decide on their future professions, and the direction their life should take. She has been invaluable to me as the master advisor. She really does care about a student's fate. Moreover we have had great fun doing these tasks together.”
Elvira, born in Arizona and raised in Dixon, Calif., was the seventh of eight children born to farmworkers. Her parents successfully ensured that their children grew up happy and healthy and in a loving home filled with family traditions.
Hack credits a UC Davis professor's assistance in helping her attend business school (he loaned her funds to purchase an electric typewriter) that led to her vow "to pay it forward" and "to make a difference."
Hack's philosophy of advising:"My overall philosophy is that students should feel welcome, respected and treasured. I ensure that my advising office is a warm, friendly, and an inviting place, an all-inclusive place where students can feel both comfortable and safe. They can trust me: they can trust me to listen, they can trust me to be heard, and they can trust me that they will be understood, supported and valued. I maintain an open door policy. I am here to provide them with advice, assistance and tools at a time when they need it the most. If they are experiencing a problem, I make time for them immediately, no matter the hour. I assure them that it is better for them to seek assistance now, than for them to head home and worry about it for hours or days. I emphasize how important self-care is because, frankly, they can be so hard on themselves. In the classroom, they may struggle with the instructor, content, assignments, grades and peers, but in my office, it's a positive experience. I assure them that they belong here, that they are appreciated, and that they are celebrated like family. My students know that I care. For example, I know that many students develop food insecurities due to monetary or time restraints. Thus, I stock a table with healthy snacks and encourage them to “drop in and grab a quick snack” in between classes or when they are working on research projects in their lab."
Students highly praise her work, dedication and kindness. “During my first quarter as a transfer student, I went through some extreme life changes and emotional roller coasters,” one student said. “I would end up in her office crying my eyes out and in distraught, but she always calmed me down and helped me reach out for other help to get me through my rough patch.”
Another student described Elvira “as by far the most helpful, kind and encouraging adviser I have met at UC Davis. Being a first-generation college student, I require extra help in understanding and executing graduation requirements and other criteria for my future career goals.”
“Elvira proves to be indispensable to our student population, being a source of morale, care and resources, said Striley, co-chair of the Staff Assembly's Citations of Excellence Committee. “For the confused or troubled students, she is first and last resort for solution of problems not only of academic or administrative kind but those of a deeply personal nature as well. Elvira has been invaluable as a student advisor.”
Hack won an award in the highly competitive Individual Service Award category. The annual program singles out outstanding staff for their exemplary work in one of four areas: innovation, research, supervision and service. They all receive monetary prizes and certificates.
Lusa Papagni, assistant director of Student Housing and Dining Services, won the Individual Service Award. Hack, a student academic advisor II, received an honorable mention along with Jaqueline Dyson, administrative assistant III in the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.
The animal biology program is part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematolgy.
Hexter commented that often universities describe “faculty achievement as something like the sun at the center of their institutional universe.” Their achievements, he said, are “the most recognizable sign of our excellence in the public eye.”
“It appears as if staff do their work on the dark side of the moon,” he quipped.
“But those of you who hold a staff position or work with staff know very well this is an incomplete picture of what makes a university great, including ours,” Hexter said, adding that "staff at all levels and in all departments are key to advancing institutional excellence, impact and reputation."
“You provide essential guidance for programs, policies and processes,” Hexter told them. “You are in front lines of taking all of these programs, policies and processes from idea to reality and also making sure they work effectively and efficiently. “
Lauding their passion, expertise.professionalism, "steadfast commitment and very hard work," Hexter praised them for their support of students, faculty and leadership and their drive to work efficiently and effectively. “You play a disproportionately large role on making our two campuses (UC Davis and UC Davis Medical Center) a true community in which all members can feel appreciated, supported, respected and included.”
Hexter, who announced Sept. 17 to the campus community that he will be stepping down from campus leadership in 2020, noted that “these are not facts learned by book but direct experience nearly years 9 years as provost. Without the contributions of an extraordinary staff in my work, the university would roll around like with a wagon with one wheel.”
Three affiliates of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology nominated Hack for the award: forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey, master advisor for the animal biology major; chief administrative officer Nora Orozco, her supervisor; and communications specialist Kathy Keatley Garvey.
They wrote that Hack, a 17-year academic advisor at UC Davis, goes above and beyond to advocate for and mentor students. Hack empathizes with the needs of others, an empathy honed by her own life experiences and the desire to “pay it forward.” As a youth--the daughter of farmworkers--she toiled in agricultural fields in Dixon, picking bell peppers and sorting tomatoes. And as a single parent/high school dropout, she cleaned houses for a living. Her life took a sharp career turn when two of her clients, a UC Davis professor and his wife, encouraged her to finish high school and attend business college. They loaned her money for an electric typewriter. Ever since then, Hack, the beneficiary of a good deed never forgotten, has vowed to “pay it forward”--to help others as others have helped her.
“Elvira is likely the best academic advisor ever. Not only is she completely conversant with all the rules and regulations of the major, but understands the latitude of flexibility built into their application in a very human way," Kimsey wrote in the nomination packet. "She is connected with all the administrative functionaries necessary to efficiently accomplish any task in a timely manner. For the confused or troubled student, she is the first and last resort for the solution of problems not only of an academic or administrative kind but those of a deeply personal nature as well. She keeps them on track, outlining their options, helping them decide on their future professions, and the direction their life should take. She has been invaluable to me as the master advisor. She really does care about a student's fate. Moreover we have had great fun doing these tasks together.” (See feature story)
Katie Wen-Chin Lee and Kristina Ho entered their poster in a competition at the 48th annual meeting of the California-Nevada chapter of the American Fisheries Society.
In addition, Sean Goodside recently led a team of three students who studied the response of juvenile green sturgeon to water flows. “He obtained the records of all three observers and forged them into a nice report,” said Peter Klimley adjunct professor in the Wildlife and Fisheries Biology Program, in an email. “I anticipate that the poster and report will eventually become scientific papers, a real credit to all three undergraduate students.”
The judging of student oral presentations and posters took place in Sacramento. This was the 14th consecutive year that the Northern California District of the American Institute of Fishery Research Biologists (AIFRB) has judged the student work. The competition drew nine student papers and six posters.
Katie Lee and Kristina Ho are both animal biology majors who plan to graduate this summer. Sean Goodside received his bachelor's degree in June.
Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology serves as the master advisor of Animal Biology and Elvira Galvan Hack as the undergraduate advisor.
About Animal Biology (from website)
The Animal Biology (ABI) major offers students training in the biological and natural sciences as they apply to animals. ABI students are encouraged to think beyond particular groups of animals in which they are interested and to consider science as a process and a way of advancing society. Emphasis is on biological principles that can be used in research or in solving societal problems associated with animals in agriculture, urban areas, or natural environments as opposed to animal care and husbandry. The major requirements provide students the opportunity to develop research and scientific writing skills; demonstrate critical thinking; work closely with faculty, staff, researchers, grad students, and/or professors; and be creative in a scientific environment.
The major consists of core biological science courses that build on animal biology from molecular foundations to the ecological and evolutionary levels of organization. After completing the core courses (usually at the beginning of the junior year), ABI students have the option of specializing in various interdisciplinary aspects of animal biology and plan their chosen emphasis of study in consultation with their adviser.
The program combines a research project (practicum) under the guidance of a faculty mentor together with supportive coursework. This gives the students a great deal of freedom in choosing classes and a research topic.
The ABI research experience remains unique among undergraduate science majors at UC Davis. By graduation, in addition to completing coursework on the principles of biology, every ABI student has designed and conducted a research project and written a final report of his/her findings.
On the advising side, we pride ourselves on our ability to provide one-on-one support for each and every one of our students in the major. Because the practicum requires the student to choose courses related to his/her research topic, no two ABI students take all of the same courses. This gives us the privilege of meeting with and getting to know all of our students.
We are always available to answer questions or schedule appointments through email so if you have questions about the program or classes please feel free to contact us.
Elvira Hack, firstname.lastname@example.org, (530) 754-7277.