Brent Kane is the 2020-2021 recipient of the Stan and Sandy Rives Excellence in Undergraduate Education Award. The honor recognizes his commitment to improving the quality of the undergraduate experience, particularly students’ first year at Illinois State University. The award’s name commemorates the contributions of Dr. Stan Rives, a Redbird graduate who served on the ISU faculty and worked as an administrator for more than 20 years

Kane began his career at ISU in 2011 and joined the College of Business’ advising staff in 2015. He currently serves as the advisor for the Department of Accounting, and most of his time is spent meeting with the more than 600 declared Accounting majors. He also serves as the chair of the Academic Advising Council, teaches BUS 100: Introduction to Business, and developed a seminar to help new transfer students transition to the department.

The students he advises appreciate the consistency, accessibility, listening ear and insights he brings to the table while helping them navigate their collegiate journey.

“Throughout the past year, I have experienced and observed dedication, compassion and support from Brent at a level above and beyond anything I have encountered from an advisor before,” said student PJ Schrik. “He is able to advise his students in a way that will benefit them inside and outside of the classroom. … Perhaps (most importantly), Brent is available. He has been available on weekends and during breaks to discuss concerns of mine often. Most recently, he was accessible when I needed someone to talk to about the stress of quarantine by quickly setting up a Zoom meeting just so I could talk things out. Through discussion with other accounting students, I know this level of consideration is experienced and appreciated by all. … I think the biggest testament to Brent’s character is that when I have an issue come up, my first thought is ‘I need to talk to Brent.’”

In a nomination letter, Ginny Smith, coordinator of academic advisement for the COB, spoke of Kane’s “dedication, work ethic and conscientiousness in dealing with students.”

Over the course of the five years she has known Kane, Smith has “invariably found him to be a caring advisor who views his role as foundational to helping nurture students as their education affords them the opportunity to grow intellectually and emotionally. He is also well respected across campus as a competent and caring advisor. He is at his happiest when he is helping, guiding, informing and teaching students who to navigate their own curricular path and career goals.”

 She also applauded Kane for continuing to grow himself as a professional so he can better meet the needs of his students. As part of his proactive approach, he is currently pursuing a doctorate in Higher Education Administration.

When asked about what he enjoys most about his job, Kane described how he likes watching students “grow from freshman to ISU graduates” and said he  is proud to have the opportunity to share in “their successes and their challenges.”

“I get to be their point of contact on campus,” he continued, “someone who is there to provide answers and resources as they pursue their profession. I am also one of the first interactions they have with a staff member at the institution, giving me the privilege of sharing my Redbird pride and the joy of being part of the ISU network.”

As an academic advisor, Kane says his primary purpose is to serve as an advocate for his students.

“In my interactions with students I hope to not only provide accurate information but also to support, encourage and guide them to make more informed academic decisions as they move throughout their college career,” he wrote in his statement of advising philosophy.

Keeping in mind that “first impressions matter,” from his very first meeting with advisees he seeks to create “an inviting environment while being an active listener” so students know they have a strong support network at ISU. His other goals include helping students establish a sense of belonging within the department, building trust by providing accurate, up-to-date information about both curriculum and career opportunities and working with students to set realistic expectations.

In a letter recommending Kane for the award, Dr. Debbie Seifert, chair of the Department of Accounting, applauded him for serving as “a great example of an excellent academic advisor.”

“He is knowledgeable, professional, caring and very involved with advising issues on a campus-wide basis,” she continued. “The students are very satisfied and grateful for his expertise. He goes out of his way to meet with students. He is always willing to assist faculty who have advising questions … Brent is not just concerned about the courses that a student takes but also about them personally. He provides a listening ear to our students and helps with whatever needs they may have. He advises students to focus on not only their academic studies but also on their overall growth and learning as an individual in the university setting.”