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July 26, 2012

ULM earns elite certification for athletic counselors

The University of Louisiana at Monroe has become only one of 20 institutions in the country to earn certification for athletic counselors from the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics or N4A.

N4A offers certification to college and university academic support programs for student athletes through an extensive and rigorous application process.

The purpose of program certification is to ensure that an academic support unit can provide a basic set of services to student-athletes.

“The level of professionalism demonstrated by the academic counselors and the entire staff in pursuing this accreditation is remarkable,” commented Brett Bennett, assistant professor and head of ULM’s department of Radiologic Technology.

Bennett serves as the university’s Faculty Athletic Representative.

“Since Dr. Bruno arrived and made the structural changes to the athletic department, we have seen the academic performance of the student-athlete improve greatly,” continued Bennett.

According to the N4A website, certification demonstrates that a program uses industry-respected standards and best practices. Certification can improve overall performance, remove uncertainty, and widen market opportunities.

Certification also helps to demonstrate that the university support program for student-athletes is run effectively.

“We certainly are excited about this recent honor,” said Bobby Staub, ULM Athletic Director.

“It validates the approach we’ve taken, which has been made through the tireless efforts of so many on our campus, particularly our academic counselors.  This is truly great news and well deserved.”

Academic support programs for student-athletes are designed to assist them with their goal of graduation. Recognizing which universities and colleges have a demonstrated commitment to the academic support of student-athletes is critical information for athletes to consider when selecting a school.

“Next to watching these student-athletes walk across the stage at commencement, this is about as good as it gets,” said Dr. Kathy Parker, coordinator of Athletic Academic Counseling in the Clarke M. Williams Student Success Center.

“I am lucky to have great student-athletes, coaches, and a director who are supportive of our efforts; and peers, colleagues and superiors who appreciate good work.”

“Our job as athletic academic counselors is not to make life easy for student-athletes, but to act in a manner consistent with what is in their long-term best interests,” continued Parker.

“This certification bestowed by those who are experts in the field tells me that we are doing the right things for the right reasons.”

ULM joins Louisiana State University as the only other Louisiana institution to be certified.

To earn the certification, ULM was subject to site visit to ensure that all aspects of certification were met.

"It was my pleasure to conduct ULM's N4A certification review,” stated Christine Jackson, past N4A President and current Director of Student Services at the University of Louisville.

“The commitment that President Bruno, Athletics Director Staub, and Director of Retention Mrs. Michaelides have to the ULM's student-athletes should be commended.  To be one of twenty institutions earning an N4A certification is a tremendous honor.  ULM’s dedication to their student-athletes' well-being was evident on my visit.”

Barbara Michaelides, Director of Retention and head of the Office of Athletic Academics, spearheaded the push toward certification.

“The N4A certification confirms that ULM student-athletes are receiving the best academic services possible to promote academic excellence. I am proud of our team - Dr. Kathy Parker, Ms. Meghan Eddy, and Mr. Mike Anderson - whose dedication and commitment foster positive academic outcomes for athletics. We are also privileged to work with many offices across campus and a great coaching staff in support of ULM student-athletes, a team effort that makes ULM stand out.”

About the N4A
The National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics (N4A) is an educational service and professional organization dedicated to promoting academic advisement and counseling to athletics.

Formed in 1975, N4A has a diverse membership representing hundreds of professionals, nationwide, working to empower student athletes to become more productive individuals through educational and personal development.

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