March 19, 2024

photo of Renee Babcock

Renee Babcock, the academic advising coordinator for the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics (ASE/EM) at The University of Texas at Austin, is a recipient of the 2024 Texas Exes James W. Vick Award for Academic Advising. The student-nominated award created in 1992 recognizes individuals who improve students’ overall experience at the University through outstanding advising. Only a handful of advisors from across the Forty Acres are selected to receive the award each year.

Babcock, who began working in ASE/EM in 2020, has a long history working with students at the University. Her first position at UT was in the Office of the Registrar, where she worked on the precursor to the Interactive Degree Audit. While working towards her master’s and Ph.D. degrees in music, Babcock said her career goals changed, and she found herself wanting to work in student services.

In 1997, Babcock began her first advising position at UT in the Department of Psychology. She also spent seven years as an advisor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering before transitioning to the Office of Graduate Students, where she worked before joining ASE/EM. Babcock said she originally applied for the position in ASE/EM because she missed working directly with students and helping them throughout their academic careers.

“I’ve always been bit of a space nerd, so getting to work with students in ASE and COE was a great fit, because the work being done in the department is not only impactful, but to quote what one student recently said to me, ‘It’s cool,’ ” Babcock said. “It’s always interesting to hear about the different projects our students are engaged in and how they plan to apply their knowledge and experiences when they graduate.”

The initial presentation of the Vick award was given to Babcock with a surprise visit to her office by the Texas Exes social media crew and the ASE/EM advising team.

“I was surprised and so honored, because only a few awards are given each year, and UT has such a large and incredible advising community. This is a really special award because it’s student-nominated and student-selected, and that makes it especially meaningful,” Babcock said. “It’s a wonderful feeling to know that the students I am serving chose to nominate me for this award, and it is tangible confirmation that I play an important role in their educational journey.”

Babcock said the things she enjoys most about working with students in aerospace and computational engineering are learning not only about how she can help with their academic goals but getting to know them on a more personal level as well.

“When I meet with a student, even if it’s to discuss classes for an upcoming semester, I like to spend a few minutes first to see how they’re doing, what’s happening in their lives that’s important to them, something they may be looking forward to, or maybe something they’re struggling with. I don’t ever want the advising relationship solely to be transactional, but rather holistic,” Babcock said. “Within our two majors, there’s such a variety of interests and experiences and goals. I know our graduates are going to have a profound impact on our society and it’s really exciting being a part of our students’ educational journey.”

For those interested in learning more about her graduate studies in music, Babcock’s dissertation on 1920s opera in Berlin is available through Texas ScholarWorks.

“I’m admittedly biased, but I think it’s very interesting reading,” Babcock said.