Penn State Intercom......March 20, 2003

Musser, Robinett receive
Excellence in Advising Awards

The 2003 Excellence in Advising Awards will be presented to Terry K. Musser and Richard W. Robinett.

The award, established by the Undergraduate Student Government's Academic Assembly, annually honors one full-time faculty member and one full-time professional adviser from any Penn State location who has at least two years of advising experience. The award acknowledges excellence in advising, academic and career guidance, enthusiasm, and assistance to students in decision-making and goal setting.

Musser began her University career 18 years ago in the College of Agricultural Sciences and has spent the last 11 years in the Division of Undergraduate Studies. As senior undergraduate studies adviser, she is responsible for advising and counseling 80 exploratory students each year as well as annual program development and evaluation of the First Year Testing, Counseling and Advising Program for 15,000 incoming freshmen and their families.

Her approach to advising involves playing many roles: academic adviser, teacher, mentor, counselor, coach and friend. She said it is her job to open their minds to new ideas and considerations, to challenge them to investigate their options as well as their strengths and weaknesses.

Students praise her personal involvement, her honesty and passion, and her willingness to go beyond "just advising."

Assistant department head and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Physics, Robinett came to Penn State in 1986 as an assistant professor.

In his current position, he advises more than three-quarters of the University's physics majors, including almost all incoming prospective physics majors and pre-majors.

As for an advising philosophy, Robinett said he maintains an open-door policy but that he also utilizes e-mail in order to provide his advisees with quick responses to their questions. Still, he said face-to-face meetings are best because often important questions or problems, which may be unrelated to the original purpose of the meeting, can arise and be examined.

Students value his patience, involvement and availability. He is known as a "folk hero among the undergraduates." His students appreciate his willingness to guide them through their time at the University and into the workplace.