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An Academic World of Difference

Left to right, assistant vice provost for Undergraduate Education JoAnne Malatesta and Interim Provost Darrell Wheeler display the new advisement award, the three winning advisors (l to r) Jason Cotugno, Rachel Moody and Claudio Gomez are joined by Wheeler and Interim President Stellar, and Moody delivers remarks upon accepting her award. (Photos by Mark Schmidt)

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 25, 2017) — The critical role played by academic advisement in the good start, smooth transition, steady progress and great finish to an undergraduate student’s college life is being recognized more and more on campuses across the country.

At UAlbany this recognition is now officially verified by a new honor, the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Academic Advising, presented on Friday to its three inaugural recipients: academic advisors Rachel Moody, Jason Cotugno and Claudio Gomez.

“We created this award to recognize the terrific UAlbany employees who dedicate themselves to the success and wellbeing of our students and to expand the campus community’s awareness of this essential function,” said Interim President James R. Stellar. “Advisers do more than assist students in selecting courses, they also function as our students’ mentors, counselors, cheerleaders, advocates, and so much more.”

“As advisors, we strive to empower students to develop within themselves the ability to navigate and overcome their obstacles,” said JoAnne Malatesta, assistant vice provost for Undergraduate Education. “The three awardees highlight the powerful impact of personal and individualized advising, and they shine as exemplars of the UAlbany academic advising model.”

Moody '97 has worked with undergraduate students for more than 17 years, returning to her alma mater in 2011 when she joined the Advisement Services Center. A fervent promoter of the developmental advising model, she formed the Advisement Services Professional Development Committee, where advisors join to address difficult topics. She is undergraduate advising liaison to the School of Social Welfare and Educational & Counseling Psychology.

In 2015, she began the center’s community building initiative “Project MyStory,” which through shared student experiences using videos, blogs, posters, small group meetings, and presentations, gives a huge boost to new students in their process of acclimating to UAlbany. Community and Public Service Program Director Sheri Stevens described it as “a passion project that keeps growing and deepening with each semester.”

Cotugno spent 2006-08 at UAlbany earning his M.S. in Educational Administration & Leadership, and during that time got a head start on his professional career by being a graduate assistant in the Office of Graduate Studies, counseling and advising culturally diverse students. After graduation, he became a full-time academic advisor for Undergraduate Student Service, rising to the assistant directorship position in March 2013.

He won the President’s Award for Leadership for Outstanding Student Organization Advisor in both 2012 and 2016. Working closely with business undergrads, he has been a staff advisor for Albany Business Leaders Emerging and the School of Business Dean’s Leadership Council, as well as assistant director of Undergraduate Student Services for the school.

Gomez ’07, M.S. ’09 became a senior academic advisor for the Educational Opportunities Program (EOP) in August of 2009. Since that time he has provided academic counseling and advisement to a caseload of approximately 120 EOP students.

In his years here he has participated in EOP summer and transfer orientation programs, taught a “freshman year experience” course both in the summer and fall, oversaw the Academic Recovery Program, facilitated study skills workshops, and, working with the Community Service Program, recruited students to work with EOP for credit.

“To say that students love him is an understatement,” EOP Director Maritza Martinez wrote a year ago. “It is rare to find his office empty as it is rare not to hear his voice offering his students much sought-after guidance when they are here.”

More plaudits for the three academic advisors can be found in the story announcing their awards from last December.

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.