Blane Harding receives Leading Light Award from national academic advising association

College of Science Director of Advising, Recruitment and Retention honored at annual national conference

College of Science Director of Advising, Recruitment and Retention Blane Harding receives Leading Light Award

10/24/2018 | By: Mike Wolterbeek |

Director of Advising, Recruitment and Retention for the College of Science Blane Harding is the 2018 recipient of the National Academic Advising Association’s Leading Light Award.

Since 1983, NACADA – with 14,000 members around the world – has honored individuals and institutions making significant contributions to the improvement of academic advising. Harding was honored and presented with a recognition plaque at a special awards ceremony and reception during the NACADA Annual Conference in September in Phoenix.  

“The work you have performed has strengthened the organization’s diversity and contributed greatly to its continued growth and success,” Dawn Krause, of NACADA, said. “We are extremely grateful to you and hope this token of recognition conveys our strong appreciation.”

The award is given to a member who has made substantial contributions to diversity within the association, including innovations to encourage advisors from underrepresented populations to join and remain in NACADA, outreach and service to specific underrepresented populations and strategies to ensure NACADA is inclusive and open to all.

“NACADA has provided me with wonderful opportunities nationwide to present and discuss issues and concerns of underrepresented students,” Harding said. “Social justice has moved to the forefront of these discussions.”

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Harding has been an integral part of the organization since 2006. Through the years, he’s held a variety of leadership positions at NACADA, given more than 25 presentations for the association at various venues – including at their summer institute, webinars and conferences.

Ever at the forefront of academic advising and diversity, Harding is co-chair of a seven-person committee working on a new initiative to develop the first-ever national curriculum for administrators to serve diverse student populations.

Harding has given a significant number of diversity presentations since 2006 for the association, including how to build action plans to implement best strategies. A typical conference for him, for example, is conducting three workshops in two days on implicit bias and diversity – building the business case for diversity.

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In addition to serving as a faculty at each of the association’s annual weeklong Summer Institutes, he has chaired the huge event, and among a dozen committees on which he’s served for the association, he’s served as the Multi-cultural Commission chair for 12 years. Not just prolific as a speaker, Harding has published eight articles for the association’s magazine/journal.

“NACADA’s recognition of Blane’s career is a true highlight for our college and university,” Jeff Thompson, dean of the College of Science, said. “His dedication and tireless work shines through in all he has done for the association.”

Throughout his four-year career at the University, Harding has done trainings on campus, in residence halls, for Nevada Bound and for junior and seniors – with an emphasis on diversity. He’s also given diversity training to Science FIT mentors, and as an adjunct instructor, he has taught for the Department of Gender, Race and Identity. Now, he motivates prospective and current students to do well at the University.

“Blane is an exceptional colleague and demonstrates his devotion and passion for students through every aspect of his work in the College,” Thompson said. “We are fortunate to have someone with his experience and qualities leading our efforts to recruit, retain and graduate students.”

Harding has received numerous other awards during his career, including: the Distinguished Administrative Professional Award from the Administration Council; the Oliver P. Pennock Distinguished Service Award from the Provost’s Office; the NACADA “Best of Region” Presentation (Region 10); the Jack E. Cermak Administrative/Professional Advising Award; and the College of Liberal Arts Excellence in Teaching award.

At the beginning of his tenure at the University, Harding was director of The Center: Every Student. Every Story, where he developed strategic planning around campus diversity initiatives that promotes campus awareness and fosters a supportive campus climate, with workshops, support services, program development.

His experience includes director of the Office of the Multicultural Affairs at the University of Kansas from 2012 to 2015; and Director of Advising, Recruitment and Retention in the College of Liberal Arts at Colorado State University from 2001 to 2012 as well as an Ethnic Studies faculty member for 22 years. He also has consulted in the field of diversity extensively for businesses and higher education.


NACADA’s membership includes faculty, professional advisors, administrators, counselors and others in academic and student affairs concerned with the intellectual, personal and vocational needs of students.  The association is also the representative and advocate of academic advising and those providing that service to higher education.


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