Tara Fischer ’02 Honored with National Advisor Award

Sarah Mazer ’19, Staff Writer

Associate Dean of Academic Advising Tara Fischer ’02 is the recipient of the national honor society, Alpha Lambda Delta’s (ALD), Outstanding Advisor of the Year Award for the 2017 year.

According to nationalald.org, Alpha Lambda Delta is a national honor society that recognizes students’ academic success in their first year at a college university. The chapter currently exists in over 280 campuses across the nation. The national requirements for admission to the society are a 3.5 GPA or higher following the first semester and placement in the top 20% of the class. In recent years at Dickinson, admission in the society has required a 3.75 GPA or above. 

Fischer, a Dickinson alumna, worked at admissions before becoming Associate Dean of Academic Advising in July 2015. In her position, she advises both Dickinson’s Alpha Lambda Delta and Phi Beta Kappa honor societies.

Fischer was nominated for Outstanding Advisor of the Year award without her knowledge by ALD President Rachael Franchini ’19 and Vice President Phuong Uyen “Winnie” Le ’19  and was “beyond honored and thrilled and honestly very, very surprised” to have received the award. Under her leadership, the chapter has won two Maintaining the Flame Awards, two Alpha Awards for membership yield and a Delta Bronze-Level award for total membership increase in 2016. Fischer meets weekly with student members of the Executive Board, which is led by Franchini and Le. Dean of Academic Advising Damon Yarnell serves as an advisor to the organization along with Fischer.

Franchini stated that she is very proud that Fischer’s achievements are gaining national recognition.

“Once we learned about the award, Winnie, the Vice President of our chapter, and I knew that Tara would be an excellent candidate for the award. We are so lucky that we have such a dedicated advisor, and I’m very proud that her achievements are being rightly recognized on a national scale.”

Yarnell described Fischer as “smart, dedicated, tireless and optimistic. Perhaps most important in the case of ALD, she and the student membership have fun and feed off one another’s energy. Whenever I stop into an ALD meeting, everyone looks thoughtful, and everyone is smiling!”

He also cited Fischer’s close relationship with students and her success in increasing the programming and visibility of the organization on campus along with the numerous awards the organization has received as factors that helped her win the Outstanding Advisor of the Year Award.

Fischer hopes that students who are invited to join ALD are able to connect with like minded individuals and become leaders in a community of inquiry. She hopes that the organization provides “encouragement to know that it’s cool to be smart” and an opportunity for nominated students to continue intellectual conversations outside of the classroom.

Fischer acknowledged that “not every person who’s really, really smart at Dickinson College is in ALD” and that a student’s first semester academic performance is not necessarily indicative of their overall academic success. Fischer cited herself as an example, explaining, “I was not invited to Alpha Lambda Delta… I had to fight my way up with grades. By the time I left Dickinson, I had been inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the Senior honor society, but I did it the hard way. I’m a first generation college student and I didn’t know how to navigate all the systems and structures.”

Fischer works with both high achieving and struggling students in her position as Associate Dean of Academic Advising. She explained that when working with any type of student, her role is always to “help students see the potential they have and push them to reach that” through connecting them to resources at the college. She added that “a lot of my work is trying to help people keep options on the table and help open doors they may not even know exist.”

Dickinson’s ALD chapter will receive a $200 cash award and Fischer will deliver a keynote address at the National Leadership Conference in Phoenix, AZ next fall. She plans to incorporate stories about Dickinson students who have been able to flourish within the organization, citing Wendy Moffat’s speech at the Curley Chair Installation ceremony as a model. One example she explained was current Vice President, Phuong Uyen “Winnie” Le, whom Fischer has seen successfully integrate international students into the organization as well as “really assert herself and become a leader.”

For more information about ALD visit www.nationalald.org or visit Dickinson College’s Chapter’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/dickinsonald.