Psychology professor receives national academic advising award


by Lindsey Park


Professor Kimberly DuVall (’83, ’88M), senior lecturer of psychology, was awarded a Certificate of Merit for Excellence in Academic Advising by the National Association for Academic Advising in December 2023. DuVall is a dually appointed faculty member in the Department of Psychology and University Advising.

“I am so honored,” DuVall said. “This is an exciting award to receive.” DuVall has attended and presented at NACADA conferences in the past, but this is the first time she has received this recognition from the organization.

DuVall has served as an academic advisor for more than 20 years. She started advising at JMU when Michael Stoloff, who was the academic uUnit head of psychology at the time, asked for her assistance in advising transfer students in the summer. “I agreed and was hooked,” DuVall said. “I was later asked by the head of University Advising to assist the Department of Psychology part-time with advising needs.”

Now, DuVall balances her efforts between teaching psychology courses and advising between 200 and 500 students at a time. Some of these students are Psychology students and those interested in declaring the major, while others are first-year or transfer students.

DuVall’s student advisees admire her approach to academic advising, sharing about ways DuVall has supported the start of their time at JMU in regard to academics and adapting to a new stage of life.

“Attending university seemed unattainable to me,” said Veronica Olson (‘23), a Psychology major. But, during what felt like a tumultuous transition into college for Olson, “I was gifted the most genuine, helpful, compassionate advocate [in Professor DuVall]”.

“Not only did she go over my schedule, but she made me feel comfortable and at ease with the new chapter I was about to begin,” said Ryley Margheim, a senior Elementary Education major, about her first academic advising meeting with DuVall. “Professor D is kind, selfless, giving, a great listener, dedicated and an amazing advisor. No one deserves this award more.”

In DuVall’s approach to academic advising, she emphasizes her role as a guide by assisting students in making responsible and informed choices about their academics and future careers. DuVall said, “I always encourage and guide [students] as they define and develop realistic goals and monitor their progress toward meeting their goals.”

“I have learned that advising involves more than merely assisting students with class schedules,” DuVall said. “It’s so necessary for academic and life guidance.” The professor observed the need for academic advising to support student success has increased as JMU has grown in size and mental health issues become more prevalent in college-age students. “Loneliness is on the rise,” she said. Along with connecting students to important resources across campus, DuVall said “I spend a lot of time encouraging students to find a strong support system.”

DuVall’s passion for advising has merged with her academic field, as she is currently involved in a research collaboration with UVA and George Mason, looking at how AI can be used effectively in advising.

Another recent research endeavor of DuVall’s centers on academic advising. In a multi-year project conducted in partnership with faculty around the country, DuVall contributed to the development of the “Market-Ready Psychology Major.” The project provides templates for syllabus inserts, PowerPoint slides and CVs that Psychology faculty may provide their students to bridge connections between skills students are gaining through study, such as critical thinking and inclusivity, to their futures post-college.

In addition to this national award, DuVall has been honored with the General Education Distinguished Teacher Award, the Madison Vision Teaching Award, and the Provost Award for Excellence in Academic Advising in recent years.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to work with intelligent, kind, and hopeful young adults at JMU,” DuVall said. “I hope I can keep doing it for years to come.”


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Published: Monday, January 22, 2024

Last Updated: Wednesday, January 24, 2024

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