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College of Education > News and Publications > News: Oct. - Dec. 2011 > Advising and Certification Center Reorganizes

Advising and Certification Center Reorganizes

The College of Education’s student advising office has a new name, several new faces, and a new approach in providing guidance services.

covington_sml_cp.jpgby Joe Savrock (November 2011)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The College of Education’s student advising office has a new name, several new faces, and a new approach in providing academic guidance and student support services.

The name change to the “Advising and Certification Center” represents the office as a welcoming physical space within the College of Education where students can come for information, consultation, and services. Previously known as the Office of Recruitment, Certification, and Education Services, the reorganized Advising and Certification Center continues to offer the same high-quality support that it always has from its office suite in 228 Chambers Building.

Catherine Augustine.jpgIts mission remains supporting students’ academic goals, professional development, and overall well-being. In addition, the Center serves alumni, the College, the University, and the Pennsylvania Department of Education in various matters.

The reorganization is aimed at development of a professional advising staff and more efficient workflow—in response to a 1994 Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) study that recommended the creation of a professional advising office and the findings of a 2010 study conducted by Penn State’s Management Engineering Office that focused on organizational development and workflow efficiencies.
Myrna Covington, an alumnus of the College and manager of the Center, oversees a staff of five advisors and two administrative support assistants. The primary functions of the Center focus on student recruitment, orientation, retention, graduation, and certification. “This is an outstanding group of professionals we have,” she said.

“Our advisors bring a diversity of strengths to the unit,” added Covington, noting that the office implements a specialization approach that taps the unique strengths of each academic advisor, as outlined below. In addition to working with the majors listed below, the office meets for initial consultation with students in Special Education, Rehabilitation and Human Services, and Education Public Policy majors.


  • Catherine Augustine has a significant interest in the area of the science and the art of healing. “Catherine brings a holistic wellness perspective to student development,” noted Covington. She also helps students with questions in the areas of biology, chemistry, earth and space science, mathematics, physics, and the childhood and early adolescent education (CEAED) major.
  • David Chase is the lead advisor for FTCAP activities. He is a 17-year veteran of the College. “Dave is our senior advisor,” noted Covington. “We rely on his wealth of wisdom and guidance.” Chase advises students who are majoring in world languages, CEAED (pk-4 and 4-8), and the secondary education English and communication major.
  • Laura Katunich is the office’s multicultural resource liaison. She is interested in exploring the ways in which sexual orientation and gender identity relate to advising and teacher education. Katunich, who joined the office in April 2010, advises students majoring CEAED (pk-4 and 4-8) and secondary education English. Previously she was at Central Washington University, where she also was an academic advisor.
  • mason_sml_cp.jpgGreg Mason began his appointment in August of this year. He is the group’s social studies liaison as well as the athletic liaison. Mason assists students who are majoring in CEAED (pk-4 and 4–8), secondary education social studies, and English and communication. Greg came to Penn State from Hunter College, where he was an academic advisor.
  • Kathleen Shannon joined the office in August after serving the College as an instructor of language and literacy education. She is the advisor for pre-major honors students and the Center’s liaison for Schreyers scholars. She advises students majoring in CEAED (pk–4 and 4–8), secondary education and communications, and social studies.
  • ShannonK_sml_cp.jpgJane Boozer is usually the first person greeted by visitors at the reception desk. She carries out a variety of responsibilities, among them scheduling appointments, administering pre-certification exams and maintaining handouts and brochures for recruitment and certification.
  • Cathy Hipple is the admission and enrollment contact for graduate certification programs. She takes care of budget matters, updates and maintains the office Web site, and serves as the administrative assistant to the manager.

On the Certification side of the Center, Kate Long, assessment and certification coordinator, oversees the certification process, entrance to major, issues related to academic holds, and data reporting and analysis. Tammy Thal, records specialist, handles graduation and commencement activities, academic exceptions, degree audits, and forms related to a variety of academic matters. Both report to the associate dean for undergraduate and graduate studies.

thal_sml_cp.jpgThe Advising and Certification Center is utilizing new technologies and adjusting office hours to better meet the needs of our current group of students. Over the past two years improvements have been implemented, such as the the establishment of an online appointment system, student-centered group programming (for example, change-of-assignment programs addressing the needs of students transferring to University Park from other campuses, discussions on high-interest topics led by advisers and faculty), and new approaches to recruiting efforts like Spend A Summer Day.

“We are currently piloting an online course substitution system,” said Covington, “and there are more enhancements to come.”