Lauren Thomas has been named director of Academic Advising Initiatives (AAI) at Virginia Tech. Thomas has served as interim director since fall 2019 and begins her permanent role in AAI immediately. 

Thomas, who has been with AAI since its creation in spring 2018, will lead the office in providing support, new ideas, and professional development opportunities for the advising community. Each member of the AAI team has an important role in supporting academic advising at Virginia Tech, whether it is through advising technology, such as Navigate; working to bridge the gap between Virginia community colleges and Virginia Tech to assist transfer students; or increasing professional development opportunities for advisors.

“Lauren brings a depth of knowledge and experience in academic advising and technology implementation to the leadership of Academic Advising Initiatives. She is passionate about collaborating with academic advisors from across the institution to facilitate the success of our students,” said Kimberly Smith, associate vice provost for Student Success Initiatives. “In addition, she has been instrumental in advancing an advising framework which elevates the importance of how different technologies align with the multiple goals of academic advising.”

Thomas was recognized as Advisor of the Month in July 2018. In her recognition, she highlighted the work she has done with transitional advising, stating “I have helped develop the transitional advising program into something which is easily accessible to any student on campus while collaborating with departments to help best serve students to find their best fit at Virginia Tech.”

She looks forward to her new leadership role in AAI while still maintaining direct student contact through transitional advising. “I enjoy this role as a transitional advisor because I feel as though I serve as their liaison between being a student and their college experience,” said Thomas. During her time in AAI, she played an integral role in improving transitional advising, as well as many other resources for students and the academic advising community. 

“We are excited to have Lauren assume this important leadership role in Academic Advising Initiatives,” said Rachel Holloway, vice provost for Undergraduate Academic Affairs. “In her time as interim director, she has proven herself as a collaborative leader in projects to support academic advising. Lauren’s leadership to implement the Navigate data analytics and advising platform has moved the university advising community to a new level of proactive support for our students. I look forward to working with her as she continues to lead the Virginia Tech advising community toward our shared goal: student success.”

Thomas has been a part of creating and implementing many of the initiatives in AAI, including Navigate, advising ambassadors, the Academic Advising Academy, and transfer student advising. In addition, she is an active member of National Academic Advising Association and has served as a moderator for their eTutorials. 

“I am very excited to continue working in Academic Advising Initiatives and am looking forward to leading AAI in our continued collaborations with campus partners to ensure students are receiving the best advising experience at Virginia Tech,” Thomas said. “I will continue to support new initiatives and projects on campus that help us better serve our students.”

Thomas began at Virginia Tech in December 2013 as an academic advisor for University Studies/Explore Technology. Before coming to Virginia Tech, she worked in the College of Education and Human Development at Radford University, where she began as a graduate student, became a full-time academic advisor, and advanced to the position of assistant advising coordinator.

Thomas earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology, with a sociology minor, in 2006 from Virginia Tech and a master’s degree in counseling and human development in 2008 from Radford University.

Written by Chenaye Blankenship