Dr. Joe Dennis Once Feared What Is Now His Favorite Part of the Job
Piedmont University reminds Dr. Joe Dennis of the small, private, liberal arts school he attended, North Central College in Naperville, Illinois.
“The second I stepped onto Piedmont’s campus, it reminded me of my alma mater. I remember the close relationships I was able to establish with faculty and staff, and the numerous opportunities presented to me as a student that I likely would not have been presented at a larger institution. I was excited at the opportunity to form similar relationships and present similar opportunities to students, so after I learned more about Piedmont, I was sold.”
Dennis was among three faculty members honored with Advisor of the Year Awards for the 2022-23 academic year. Dennis and Dr. Lillian Reeves tied for the undergraduate advisor award. Dr. Jackie Ellet was named Graduate Advisor of the Year.
Dennis said he has been blessed to have many “dream jobs”— radio star (10 years) and journalist (five years) — and now, teacher.
“At Piedmont, I am living my dream,” Dennis said. “Being an academic advisor to students was the aspect of the job I was most fearful of when I started at Piedmont.”
Plot twist: Now, it is Dennis’ favorite part of the job.
He forms relationships with new students before they become students. He often represents the Mass Communications Department at summer orientation events when incoming students and their families come to campus. He also teaches the MCOM Piedmont 1101 class.
“Every student has my cell phone number,” Dennis said. “Students know that I’m someone they can come to for anything, and if I don’t know the answer, I will help them find the answer, whether it’s referring them to counseling, financial aid, or even exploring a different major.”
The Faculty Senate accepts nominations for the outstanding advisor awards during the spring semester. Faculty, staff, and students may all make nominations, which a selection committee then evaluates. Effective advising qualities and practices include the advisor’s interpersonal skills, caring attitude, mastery of the university’s policies and procedures, monitoring of student progress and success, and frequency of contact with and availability to advisees.
Current students recognize that Dennis is personally invested in them, and their influence on who ultimately receives the advising award means a lot to him.
“But the true reward is when an alum I advised contacts me out of the blue to seek advice or even let me know of their latest life accomplishment, whether that’s a new job, a marriage, or a baby. To know that even after they graduate, I’m still someone they consider a mentor, that’s the type of relationship I’m trying to develop with students. And something that can only be done at a small college like Piedmont.”