For Maher, professor and head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, it's not the first accolade to come his way based on his work as a member of the MSU faculty. In 2009, he won the James and Mary Ross Provost's Award for Excellence in recognition of his innovative work in robotics, his role in helping the College of Engineering develop several core courses, as well as his contributions in the music technology program.
But being nominated as an outstanding advisor by his colleagues and students is especially gratifying, Maher said.
"It means a lot," said Maher, who traveled to Nashville to receive his award. "In my career I've been affiliated with six universities as either a student or a faculty member, and what I love about MSU is that, from the president on down to the faculty and the support staff, people here really care about student success."
Once upon a time, professors were likely to view advising as a tiresome but necessary chore, Maher said.
"The academic world used to be sink or swim for students," Maher said. "But I think academic advising has become something we as professors think of as a core part of our jobs and not this extra thing that we're required to do."
According to NACADA, the advising award in the faculty category (for those whose primary responsibility is teaching) goes to individuals "who have demonstrated qualities associated with outstanding academic advising of students or outstanding academic advising administration."
The nominating materials NACADA received on behalf of Maher show a professor who extends considerable energy on both academic advising with his students and on the administrative side of advising in the College of Engineering.
James Becker, an associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, pointed to Maher's work on the department's website as a prime example of his dedication to helping get students pointed in the right direction.
"Rob has taken it upon himself to build the department's website into a powerful tool for advertising the department's capabilities and for helping provide current and prospective students with advice regarding completing degree programs within the department," Becker said. "During my advising sessions with students, I will often refer to the website and have found it to be a very helpful tool."
Brett Gunnink, acting dean of the College of Engineering, said the award is fitting for a faculty member who walks the walk when it comes to leading his department.
"There are few people at MSU who work harder and care more about MSU and in particular MSU students than Dr. Maher," Gunnink said. "I am thrilled to see Dr. Maher get some well-earned recognition for his efforts."
NACADA's mission is to promote quality academic advising and professional development of its membership to enhance the educational development of students. NACADA's membership has grown to over 10,000 faculty, professional advisors, administrators, counselors, and others in academic and student affairs concerned with the intellectual, personal, and vocational needs of students.
Contact: Sepp Jannotta, firstname.lastname@example.org, (406) 994-7371.