The Provost’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising annually recognizes advisors at the University of Pittsburgh who have engaged students in a collaborative and holistic process of advising by preparing students for lives of impact through educational experiences tailored to their specific goals and needs.
For the purposes of this award, an academic advisor is defined as a staff or faculty member who formally serves as a student’s designated advisor. While we recognize and celebrate the fact that students consult with and seek advice from a network of staff and faculty throughout their academic journey at Pitt, the purpose of this award is to celebrate those members of the University community that serve as formally designated academic advisors.
Each award consists of a cash prize to a staff or faculty member of $1,000 and a grant of $1,500 to support that advisor’s professional development activities. Up to three awardees may be chosen in each award period.
All 2022 awardees were honored publicly at a reception and an “Advisor Appreciation” event on Thursday, March 3, 2022.
Congratulations to the three recipients of the inaugural Provost’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising.
Danielle M. Andrews-Brown
Danielle M. Andrews-Brown, Lecturer, Undergraduate Academic Advisor and Environmental Studies Program Coordinator – Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, holds a B.S. in Biology from South Carolina State University, M.S. in Plant and Soil Sciences from University of Kentucky and a Ph.D. in Soil Sciences from Penn State University.
She is a revered faculty member, mentor and advisor in the department of geology and environmental science. Additionally, she is the assistant dean for the Dietrich School for Undergraduate Studies and is the academic integrity officer. In this role, she has been able to deploy her skills and abilities as a departmental advisor to school and university-wide initiatives. Associate Dean Twyning noted, “Prepared to work with any student, she has become an expert across the board, helping students navigate their way to the best possible academic outcome... in all her roles, Danielle is a strong and insightful advocate for our students.”
Danielle's guiding principles include being student-centered, reflective, and inclusive. She aims to enhance confidence, agency, and capacity for self-advocacy in each advisee. It is clear she engages in constant examination, assessment, and self-reflection of her advising practices and implementation of strategies that support her overall well- being and that of her students. She works to develop trusting and respectful relationships with advisees and to support their diverse backgrounds, interests, and needs by creating relationships that are culturally appropriate and effective at addressing barriers for students facing socioeconomic, cultural, physical, and learning barriers. She takes time to meet with her students in order that they feel comfortable and confident in their goals, dreams, and plans for college and beyond.
Karen Ricco, an Academic Advisor at the University of Pittsburgh, Greensburg campus since 2007. Karen earned three degrees from Pitt: B.S. in Applied Mathematics, B.A. Linguistics, and M.Ed. in Higher Education. She is highly involved in her campus and community, including the National Theater Honors Society, National Math Honors Society, American Legion Auxiliary, and several choirs in her community.
Karen has a demonstrated track record of advising and mentoring professional development and leadership. She trains others on her campus and is often the “go to” person for questions about advising. One nominator wrote, “When stumped, I reach out to Karen... in the rare occurrence that Karen does not know the answer to my question, she always would direct me to the appropriate staff member.”
Her advising philosophy focuses on fostering the whole student, factors important for student success and encouraging personal growth. It is clear from the recommendations provided that students and colleagues value Karen’s commitment to her campus community and their personal and academic success.
Devin N. Ulm
Devin N. Ulm, Academic Advisor, First-Year Engineering Program – Swanson School of Engineering. Devin holds a B.S. in Engineering from Robert Morris University and an M.Ed. in Higher Education from Pitt. Her supervisor, Jill Harvey, describes her as “analytical, a problem-solver, and one who seeks constant improvement. She is such an asset to our team because she innately brings a mindset that many student services professionals have to work a little harder to access.”
While she has only been in the profession a short time (three years), she has already shown leadership capacity at Pitt and in the broader advising community. She is an advocate for her peers and has helped others in the profession. Devin co-leads the PMACC (Community Circle) for new advisors, she has presented at the annual Mentoring and Advising Summit and other workshops, and sits on committees for the Swanson School and the wider University. She was also on the workgroup which developed curriculum for Pitt ACT, the online training program for advisors.
One of her colleagues shared, “As a new advisor, I’ve been exceedingly grateful for Devin’s leadership in the PMACC for New Advisors. Devin is a master at communicating advising policy, theory, and practice to a group representing a wide range of departments and backgrounds.”
Her “advising as teaching” philosophy coupled with a developmental approach allows her to center on her students and their stories. It is clear she has had an impact in helping many students find their passion.
Submit a Nomination
University of Pittsburgh students, staff, and faculty are invited to nominate eligible candidates. To be eligible for the award, an academic advisor must be a current staff or faculty member and have served full-time at the University of Pittsburgh for at least two years at the time of the nomination.
Find more information about advising excellence, eligibility requirements, nomination guidelines, and selection procedures in the 2022 Guidelines (PDF).
The nomination period is now closed.
- Nomination period opens: Wednesday, December 8, 2021
- Nominations due: Monday, January 10, 2022
- Mini-packet materials due: Monday, January 31, 2022
- Provost’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising event: March 3, 2022