First-Term Advising Model Earns WSC Higher Education Award

First-Term Advising Model Earns WSC Higher Education Award

WILLISTON, N.D. – Earlier this month, Williston State College was honored by the Western Alliance of Community College Academic Leaders (the Alliance) for its innovative first-term advising model and was named the winner of the 2019 Bernice Joseph Award.

The Bernice Joseph Award is given annually by the Alliance for the best academic-leadership resource that demonstrates innovation, problem-solving capability, and evidence of positive impact. The award honors Bernice Joseph, an influential University of Alaska educator who passed away in 2014.

Kaylyn Bondy, WSC’s Vice President for Student Affairs, accepted the award on behalf of WSC in Salt Lake City at the Alliance’s annual meeting.

Founded in 2010, the Alliance is a membership organization based at the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE); one of four U.S. higher education regional compacts established by Congress in 1953.

In receiving the Bernice Joseph award, WSC’s first-term advising model gains broad recognition among the two-year-college chief academic officers who represents Alliance member institutions located in the WICHE region encompassing 16 state and territorial members.

“I am very encouraged to see this program honored with the Bernice Joseph Award,” said Alliance Chair Clifton Sanders, Provost for Academic Affairs at Salt Lake Community College. “It showcases the value our Alliance provides by turning a spotlight on innovations that improve community and technical colleges’ ability to serve students and communities.”

The first-term advising model was initiated in early 2017.

“Each first-time student is assigned a first-term advisor,” explained Kim Weismann, Associate Professor of Communication. “An advising handbook was also developed to assist both advisors and their advisees. The goal of the program is to positively impact student retention by better orienting students to WSC, educating students on WSC’s services and resources, and creating a comfortable environment to ask questions and become acclimated with the college environment.”

Faculty and staff are encouraged to apply to be advisors. Individuals are selected, trained, and assigned students with the goal of connecting students to WSC through materials and intentional conversations throughout a student’s first term.

“Student wait-time between becoming eligible to enroll and working with an advisor to choose coursework has lessened and resulted in improved student retention rates,” stated Kim Wray, Vice President for Academic Affairs. “As a result, we can better plan and adjust our course schedule. If additional course sections are needed, we can add them as earlier student enrollment provides an accurate picture of final term enrollment.”

WSC’s advising model will be added to the Alliance’s Academic Leaders Toolkit, a peer-reviewed repository of useful tools to assist academic leaders and to help advance the academic missions of higher education institutions, systems, and states in the WICHE region and beyond.

“This award really showcases WSC as a premiere community college as it is a competitive award,” stated Weismann. “Receiving the award recognizes the hard work our personnel are doing to help students succeed at WSC.”

“WSC is honored to receive the 2019 Bernice Joseph Award for its first-term advising tool,” said Bondy. “WSC supports innovate solution sharing amongst institutions and is honored to be named for an award that supports just that.”

In addition to the Bernice Joseph Award, WSC’s Bondy was appointed by an Alliance board vote to serve as the Vice Chair of WICHE for the 2019-2020 year.

Bondy will work with the Chair to create an annual conference and serve other community college specific needs of WICHE throughout her term.

For more information on the first-term advising model and/or the Bernice Joseph Award, please contact Kim Wray at 701.774.4500 or

For more information, please visit, call 1.888.863.9455, or stop by 1410 University Avenue, Williston, ND.