2023-2024 Outstanding Academic Advisors

Three University of Georgia academic advisors have received 2023-2024 Outstanding Undergraduate Academic Advising Awards. Matt Jordan, Emily Robinson, and Ryan Smith nominated by their supervisors and selected by a committee of three student representatives from the Student Government Association along with previous advising award winners.


Outstanding Professional Advisor:
Matt Jordan,
Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

Matt Jordan, UGA’s Outstanding Professional Advisor, advises more than 300 students in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. Jordan began working in Franklin College in 2019 as an advisor for psychology majors, and he began advising biology majors in 2021. He also assists students on the pre-professional track and DoubleDawgs pathways.

On top of this, he has served as a retention advisor in Franklin College for students on academic and continued probation. He has also worked with the biology advising team to assess and revise degree program requirements.

“The best word to describe Matt is deliberate in every facet of what he does,” said Yadira Castillo, an academic advisor II in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. “As a colleague, Matt is one of the first to volunteer for anything, whether it is giving feedback or participating in recruitment events—a level of engagement that speaks to his commitment to our team and to our students.”

Jordan received the 2023 Franklin College Outstanding Advisor Award and was a finalist for the award in 2022 and 2021.

Jordan describes his advising philosophy as one of engagement, assessment, planning, and evaluation. He encourages active listening, creating options before actions are made, and being authentic in his advising appointments. Students regard Jordan as a pivotal and outstanding person in higher education.

“Throughout my time at UGA, Mr. Jordan has consistently demonstrated exceptional dedication, understanding, and support that has been invaluable to my academic success and personal growth,” said Vy Nguyen, a fourth-year student advised by Jordan. “Mr. Jordan’s unwavering support during challenging times has been instrumental in helping me navigate through academic and personal difficulties.”

Jordan is respected for promoting independence in his students by helping them make informed decisions while also being a system of support for them. Even with having a large caseload of students, he is extremely accessible to his students and passionate about helping them unlock their potential.

Jordan earned his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Georgia in 1997 and returned for his master’s degree in English from UGA in 2002.


Excellence in Advising Special Populations:
Emily Robinson,
Mary Frances Early College of Education

Emily Robinson, UGA’s Excellence in Advising Special Populations recipient, advises nearly 220 students in the Mary Frances Early College of Education. Robinson began working as an academic advisor at UGA in August 2020 and switched to her current role as a transfer specialist in September 2022.

“Relationships are the key to Emily’s success,” said Stacey Neuharth-Pritchett, senior associate dean for academic programs. “Her transfer students note the amazing connections she helps create to enhance their experiences at UGA.”

Robinson helped develop the curriculum for EDUC 4200, a Transfer Seminar course for incoming students. She also created and maintained a Mary Frances Early College of Education transfer handbook for incoming transfer students. She serves as a liaison to college academic departments and collaborates with program faculty and staff with curriculum issues, application processes, Double Dawgs, website updates, and student data and progression.

She is noted for her teamwork and “her unwavering support and genuine commitment to fostering a positive and inclusive environment,” said Litashia Carter, coordinator of transfer services. “Her willingness to share insights, collaborate on projects, and offer guidance has significantly enhanced transfer student experiences across the academic advising community.”

Robinson describes her advising philosophy as being inclusive, relational, and developmental. She thoroughly understands academic policies and requirements, while also empathizing with students dealing with difficult circumstances. She strives for students to obtain more than an education at UGA—to pursue their passions and discover their purpose.

“Every single one of my interactions with Emily has been evidence that she is a critical thinker, an outstanding, creative problem-solver, and a dedicated leader with steadfast commitment to student success,” said Julia Butler-Mayes, former director of university academic advising services.

Robinson earned her bachelor’s degree in human development and Family Sciences from the University of Georgia in 2017. In 2020, she received her master’s degree in professional counseling from the University of West Georgia.


Outstanding New Advisor:
Ryan Smith,
Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

Ryan Smith, UGA’s Outstanding New Advisor, advises more than 200 students seeking degrees in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. He advises students seeking degrees in geography, interdisciplinary art, and art with areas of emphasis in interior design, photography, and printmaking. Smith began advising at UGA in September 2021.

“His thoughtfulness, reliability, and integrity have gained the trust of his students and colleagues alike,” said Diane Miller, director of student academic services for Franklin College.

Smith created, proposed, and implemented the Franklin College New Advisor Program in 2023. This program was designed for Franklin College advisors in their first year to gain mentorship from experienced advisors. New advisors are paired with an experienced advisor who volunteers to participate, facilitate meetings, and mentor as a group. Smith also created and managed a new advisor Slack Channel to help new advisors feel more comfortable and allow them to ask questions with their peers.

“From the moment Ryan stepped into the role of department advisor for the Geography Department, his impact has been nothing short of transformative, not just for the students he advises but for his colleagues and the department as a whole,” said Kajal Patel, academic advisor for Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communication.

Smith’s advising philosophy is to be authentic and approachable, to always encourage, and to learn from his students. Smith’s colleagues describe him as being selflessly committed to his students and willingly extending a helping hand. He is described as going above and beyond in his role as an academic advisor.

“I have had Ryan as my advisor for a couple of years now, and every single time I leave an appointment with him I have to tell someone that I have never met someone that was made for their job more than him,” said Caroline Ward, a fourth-year interior design major.

Smith’s students describe him as being a system of support and truly caring for his students. He listens to students’ future career goals and helps students find classes they are inspired in.

Smith earned his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Georgia in 2005.

Empowering Student & Faculty Success

From providing student academic services to empowering teachers, the Office of Instruction is responsible for a wide range of initiatives that further advance the University of Georgia into the national spotlight as one of the top performing universities in the nation.

Give Now Contact Us