Why Academic Advisers Need Sabbaticals: Support for Scholar-Practitioners


  • Andrew K. Wahlstrom University of Oregon




sabbatical leave, scholar-practitioner, adviser retention, advising research, advising role, advising profession


Academic advising leaders have called repeatedly for academic advisers to engage in research to encourage research-informed advising practice and to advance the advising profession. However, most primary role academic advisers have little time, few incentives, and minimal institutional support to pursue the requisite level of scholarly activity. To stimulate such research, I propose sabbatical leave for academic advisers as an essential practice and a direct implication of the scholar-practitioner paradigm. Sabbaticals for academic advisers would be comparable to the semester or academic year leave available to tenure-line faculty. During the sabbatical, academic advisers would pursue advising research and writing, free from advising practice duties. Establishing sabbatical leave would confer multiple benefits. Academic advisers would experience improved advising practice anchored to research and scholarship, and the profession would gain a strengthened practitioner-driven knowledge base. Institutions would find these sabbaticals a valuable resource to attract advising job candidates and to mitigate the primary causes of academic adviser attrition—burnout and lack of recognition. To reap these benefits requires re-imagining academic adviser positions as an intermediate blend of regular faculty and administrative roles. Doing so is needed to create the structural framework to support advising research (including expectations, incentives, and funding) that most primary role adviser positions lack. I conclude with strategies for advisers and advising administrators to implement reformulated positions designed to support advisers as scholar-practitioners.


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