Past Workshops: Mentoring & Advising

Advising Students Foreclosed to Academic Major Decisions and Assisting with Academic Exploration Opportunities at Pitt
Thursday, June 17, 2021
10–11:30 a.m.
Presented by April Belback, Director of Undergraduate Advising and Mentoring, and Julia Spears, Associate Vice Provost for Academic Innovation 

Higher education academic advising and student success professionals understand the value of exploration for our students. However, students are sometimes unaware or hesitant to explore major and career choices, which may put them at risk of not persisting. Some students in this status are “foreclosed” to their commitments and academic plans, meaning they have prematurely committed to their goals despite exploring. In this session, April Belback will outline proactive advising strategies for students in foreclosure status which help them to explore different opportunities. Then, Julia Spears will highlight a new Pitt resource—Degree Finder—aimed at assisting prospective students, families and current students who may be exploring new academic opportunities.   

A Networked Approach to Mentorship and Support
Tuesday, July 27, 2021
11 a.m.–12:30 p.m. 
Join us in a conversation with Julia Freeland Fisher, Director of Education Research at the Clayton Christensen Institute.

Effective student support and advising hinges on students having access to a broad and diverse web of relationships with peers, faculty, mentors and industry professionals. Although campuses are social hubs, they often leave access to these networks to chance. In turn, valuable social capital—that could help students get by and get ahead—goes untapped. But a strategic approach to fostering and measuring connection can take the chance out of chance encounters. In this session, Julia Freeland Fisher will walk participants through a new playbook which distills five steps for building and strengthening students’ networks, guided by decades of research on the power of relationships, innovative strategies, and emerging measures from the field. 

Julia Freeland Fisher leads a team that educates policymakers and community leaders on the power of disruptive innovation in the K-12 and higher education spheres through its research. Her team aims to transform monolithic, factory-model education systems into student-centered designs that educate every student successfully and enable each to realize his or her fullest potential. Julia is the author of Who You Know: Unlocking Innovations That Expand Students’ Networks (Wiley, 2018). The book focuses on emerging tools and practices that leverage technology to radically expand who students know—their stock of “social capital”—by enhancing their access to and ability to navigate new peer, mentor, and professional networks.

Career Champion Program
Wednesday, April 7, 2021
1-3 p.m.
Presenters: Karin Asher, Associate Director of the Career Center; Ryan Sweeny, Assistant Director for Career Development; and Alyssa Camerota, Career Consultant for Undecided Students

Through the Career Champion program, Pitt’s Career Center aims to educate and empower our faculty and staff partners when having conversations with students about their career plans.  Participants will learn about the career decision-making process, hear best practices for career conversations, and learn about ethical considerations in the field of career services. Pitt’s Career Center recognizes the importance of our faculty and staff partners in the career education process, and this program will establish consistent University-wide messaging around career education for our students.  Participants will receive a certificate of completion and a digital badge to showcase that they are a member of the Career Champion community at Pitt. Note: This is a 2-hour training, and participants should commit to the full training time to receive all the content.

Financial Wellness and Services: Referrals and Information for Advisors and Mentors
Wednesday, February 24, 2021
3-4 p.m.
Presented by Joel Philstin, Director, Financial Wellness Program and Janet McLaughlin, Assistant Director of Financial Aid Services
View the Slide Deck from the Presentation

Financial Wellness is a growing concern in higher education. From coverage on the student loan debt crisis, to reports on students struggling to pay their basic educational charges, students are constantly confronted with financial decisions and need more information on financial resources. Join us to discuss how the Financial Aid Wellness Center and the newly created Financial Wellness Program are helping to provide more financial information and creating programs to better inform and assist students for both short-term and long-time financial success.

Language as an Opportunity Multiplier:
Changing the Language of Our Language Advising

Tuesday, January 26, 2021
3-5 p.m.
Presented by Andrew Lotz, Academic Advisor and Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Studies, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

From global and cultural competency to raw earning power in their careers, students––especially incoming and first-year students––need to change the way they understand language training. This means we, as their advisors, need to think about how we're discussing it. This workshop will discuss the underinformed ideas about language instruction that students and their families carry (e.g., their high school language experience is comparable to a college language experience, or language training takes too much time to fit with other majors or pathways). Then we will address how we, as advisors, can structure the way we speak about languages to give students the kind of opportunities that languages provide: if students don't start early with a language, the big benefits––such as higher lifetime salaries, expanded job options, and taking language training when it comes "free" with tuition––can be lost. The session will be broken into three parts and will feature model student interactions with students, breakout sessions that will focus on the benefits of language training within four different pathways of careers (medical, industry, public service and creative), and a hands-on portion at the end where we can practice these things in creative ways to improve our advising practice together. We're planning on a host of voices to join in, including faculty, students and people in a variety of career paths to talk about the practical value of language in their field.

Virtual Advising Strategies: What We Learned the Fall 2020 Semester
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
12:00-1:00 p.m.
Discussion Lead: Jessica Wandelt, Lecturer II & Academic Advisor, Department of Biological Sciences

Career Champion Program
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
1:00-3:00 p.m.
Contact Karin Asher for information about the Career Champion Program

Presenters: Karin Asher, Associate Director of the Career Center, Ryan Sweeny, Assistant Director for Career Development and Alyssa Camerota, Career Consultant for Undecided Students

Through the Career Champion program, Pitt’s Career Center aims to educate and empower our faculty and staff partners when having conversations with students about their career plans.  Participants will learn about the career decision-making process, hear best practices for career conversations, and learn about ethical considerations in the field of career services. Pitt’s Career Center recognizes the importance of our faculty and staff partners in the career education process, and this program will establish consistent University-wide messaging around career education for our students.  Participants will receive a certificate of completion and a digital badge to showcase that they are a member of the Career Champion community at Pitt.

Lunch and Learn: Holistic and Intrusive Advising Approaches for Student Retention
Friday, October 9, 2020
12:00-1:00 p.m.
Discussion Leads: Michael Farabaugh, Academic Support Services for Student-Athletes and April Belback, Director of Undergraduate Advising and Mentoring
Download the slide deck

Taking Care of Yourself First: Advisor Self-Care
Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Video Recording (Pitt login required)
Presentation Deck (Pitt login required)
Handout: Self-Care While Working from Home

Presented by the University Counseling Center: Ahmed Ghuman, PsyD, MBA, LPC, Associate Director of Strategic Programs and Services, and Cassandra Long, LSW, Psychotherapist, Care Coordinator

Explore new ways to engage in self-care. Members of the University Counseling Center will guide participants through a variety of self-care activities, as well as discuss ways to engage in self-care while working from home. This event will provide an opportunity to rebalance, restore, and rejuvenate yourself!  In the words of Maya Angelou, “As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” So come join us and learn new ways to take care of yourself! 

Documentation in Pathways: Best Practices, Guidelines and Sensitive Situations
Thursday, August 6, 2020
Video Recording (Pitt login required)
Presentation Deck (Pitt login required)

Presenters: April E. Belback, Director of Undergraduate Advising and Mentoring; Amanda Brodish, Director of Data Analytics and Pathways; and Ashley Christopherson, Undergraduate Academic Advisor

The Pathways platform provides several ways for advisors and mentors to document student interactions.  Maintaining records of student interactions are important for several reasons (institutional memory, personalizing the advising experience, enhanced collaboration) but advisors and mentors often struggle with what to include in a student record.  This session will consider some best practices in writing reports and notes in Pathways and review guidelines, including standards all users have to follow.  Last, we will review how to document and make referrals for sensitive situations in Pathways.

Wellness and Resilience for College and Beyond: An Undergraduate Course to Foster Student Wellness
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Email for access to the recording.

Presenter: Carla D. Chugani, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

This workshop will provide advisors with an overview of the Wellness and Resilience Course (WRC) offered at the University of Pittsburgh. The WRC was originally developed at the University of Washington, where nearly 1,000 students per year enroll. The WRC teaches students evidence-based skills for improving mental health and wellness from the fields of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and positive psychology. This presentation will focus on the course content, delivery, and student experience to allow advisors a detailed understanding of what this course is about and what the experience of participating is like for students. Also discussed will be Dr. Carla Chugani’s research related to the course to show how participating can help support student mental health and wellbeing.

Engaging with New Students Town Hall
Tuesday, May 19, 2020
Town Hall Recording

Joseph McCarthy, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies​
Marc Harding, Vice Provost for Enrollment​
Kenyon Bonner, Vice Provost and Dean of Students

See also: Virtual Town Halls for Students

Improvisation for Mentoring Conversations
Thursday, April 9, 2020

This fun and unique workshop is offered in celebration of Graduate-Professional Student Appreciation Week. Participants will be introduced to the principles of improvisation and practice using improv in everyday situations. Focus will be placed on building conversational and networking skills, in particular as they relate to initiating and cultivating mentoring relationships.

Presenter: Olivia Hartle, Project Manager, Office of the Provost and Applied Improvisation Practitioner-Scholar

This event is part of Pitt's Year of Creativity initiative.

Referrals in Pathways: When and How to Make Them
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Presentation Deck
Case Management Referral Information

In this workshop, you’ll learn about the referral process in Pathways, Pitt’s new advising and student success platform. We’ll cover when and how to make a referral in Pathways as well as what different offices do in response to a referral. Amanda Ries will share how Residence Life responds to referrals and Mary Bigante will provide guidance on when to make a referral in Pathways vs. call Pitt Police vs. reach out to the CARS Team.

Amanda Brodish, Director of Data Analytics and Pathways for Student Success, Office of the Provost
Mary Bigante, CARS Team Care Manager
Amanda Ries, Assistant Director, Academic Initiatives, Residence Life

Understanding the Unique Path of an International Student
Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Workshop Recording

International students face obstacles in their educational journey, beginning even prior to the application process.  This workshop will describe the unique challenges inherent in the international student path, including visa regulations, restrictions on their stay in the U.S., and cultural adjustments necessary for success.  This interactive session will include case studies and discussion about the resources available on campus, with plenty of time reserved for Q&A.  

Presenter: Delo Blough, J.D., Director, Office of International Services

January is National Mentoring Month!
And we’re marking the occasion on Pitt Commons. Join us weekly at for information, resources, and helpful tips on how to be a mentee and mentor. All month long, we’ll pair interested students with alumni, faculty, and staff for a flash mentoring meeting—a quick mentorship-based chat designed to showcase the opportunities that are available in these important relationships.

Improvisation for Advising Conversations
Friday, November 22, 2019
Training Video, Online Resources, and More
Pitt Magazine Article

Improvisation is becoming increasingly recognized as a critical skill for engaging in productive conversations. Recently, improv has been brought into higher education spaces as a key training modality for academic advising. Through a series of facilitated simulations and role-playing with real Pitt students, advisors will have a chance to learn, share, and practice new approaches to bring to their advising work.

Presented by: Olivia Hartle, Project Manager and Applied Improvisation Practitioner-Scholar; and April Belback, Director of Undergraduate Advising and Mentoring, Office of the Provost

This event is part of Pitt's Year of Creativity initiative.

The Benefits of Innovation
Wednesday, October 23, 2019
Presentation Deck

This workshop will explore how the process of innovation benefits students—during their time here at Pitt and in their careers post-graduation. Take advantage of a hands-on demonstration of how students can learn innovation through a mini-Big Idea Blitz that condenses a 24-hour program for students into a one-hour session designed to help advisors and mentors communicate the powers of innovative thinking to your students.

Presented by: Babs Carryer, Director, Big Idea Center, University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute

Helping Advisors Help Students Navigate Disability Resources and Services (DRS)
Thursday, September 26, 2019
Presentation Deck

Join this workshop for insights into how advisors and mentors can assist students in navigating the DRS office and processes. Learn more about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including education. Get an overview of disability information and best practices on language for advising and helping students. DRS disability specialists will also share how to provide proactive outreach to students, specifically with resources related to Pitt.

Presented by: Chad Jurica, Disability Specialist, and Amy Arnold, Disability Specialist, Disability Resources and Services

Incorporating Civic Engagement into Advising 
August 12, 2019
Workshop Recording

The Pathways for Civic Growth project team presented on integrating civic mindedness and engagement into advising and the institutional culture at Pitt. As this project continues to scale up in its second year of funding through the Provost’s Personalized Education Initiative, the team looks forward to collaborating with new partners across Pitt’s many schools and departments to make the Pathways for Civic Growth a part of every advisor’s toolbox. The focus of this meeting was to introduce attendees to the civic diagnostic tool, mentoring protocol, and resources for directing students to civic experiences that fit their needs via a central location for opportunities.

Linda DeAngelo, Associate Professor, Administrative and Policy Studies, School of Education
Lina Dostilio, Associate Vice Chancellor for Community Engagement, Community and Governmental Relations
Holly Hickling, Academic Community Engagement Advisor, University Honors College
Sarah Kurz, PhD Student and Graduate Researcher, Administrative and Policy Studies, School of Education
Meredith Mavero, Manager of Student Programs and Community Outreach, Institute of Politics
Alka Singh, Director of Experiential Learning, School of Computing and Information

Understanding Enrollment and Advisement Tools Available to Students in the PeopleSoft Student Information System
June 20, 2019
Workshop Recording

This presentation provided an overview of enrollment and advisement tolls in PeopleSoft from the student and advisor perspectives.  Special emphasis was given to the Schedule Planner and the Plan By My Requirements tools.

Christopher Coat, associate university registrar
Jeffrey Bastian, senior systems analyst for student services 

Inclusive Mentoring: Using Social Psychological Interventions to Improve Mentoring and Learning of All Students
May 21, 2019
Workshop Recording

College mentors often de-emphasize students’ motivational characteristics—e.g., their sense of belonging, self-efficacy, and their views about whether intelligence is fixed or malleable.  These characteristics can especially impact learning outcomes of women and underrepresented students, and stereotype threats exacerbate these issues.  This session discussed research studies that show how mentoring and coaching students using different types of social psychological interventions can improve the motivation and learning of all students, especially women and those from underrepresented groups.

Kevin Binning, research scientist, Learning Research and Development Center, and assistant professor, Department of Psychology
Chandralekha Singh, director, Discipline-based Science Education Research Center, and professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy