Meet The Advisors & Staff of the University Advising and Academic Services Center

Michelle Yager, Director

Michelle Yager

Responsibilities – In addition to directing the University Advising and Academic Services Center (UAASC), Michelle serves as the Chair of the University-wide Council of Academic Advisors.

Biography – Michelle earned her B.S. in Therapeutic Recreation, completed an Elementary Teacher License program and earned her M.A in Human Growth and Development with an emphasis in School Guidance Counseling, all from the University of Iowa.

University Advising and Academic Services Center

Bryan Barker, Advisor

Bryan Barker

Responsibilities – In addition to advising UA and TAP students, Bryan serves as the University Advising Program Coordinator.

Biography – Bryan received his B.A. in film from Columbia and his M.A. in Cinema Studies from Chapman and has taught frequently within the discipline.

Jane Coplan, Advisor

Jane Coplan

Responsibilities – In addition to advising UA, OAS and TAP students, Jane coordinates the Early College Credit Program, supervises the graduate assistants, and organizes professional development for academic advisors. Jane also teaches University 100, "Personal Growth in Higher Education" which is designed to assist students with: study skills, time management, test-taking strategies and note-taking.

Biography – Jane graduated from Western Illinois University with a B.A. from the Board of Trustees program and a M.S. in College Student Personnel.

Julie Brines, Advisor

Julie O'Brien

Responsibilities – In addition to her work with University Advising and TAP students, Julie produces publications, such as the General Education Handbook. She also maintains the UAASC website and the tutoring function of the WIU Mobile App.

Biography – Julie received a B.A. in Communication, a M.S. in Recreation, Park & Tourism Administration and a M.S. in College Student Personnel from Western Illinois University. She is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Higher Education from Illinois State University. Julie is also an adjunct professor for the Department of Recreation, Park & Tourism Administration at Western.

Linda Thomas, Advisor

Linda Thomas

Responsibilities – In addition to advising UA and TAP students, Linda coordinates the Transitional Advising Program for Business.

Biography – Linda holds a B.S. in Business Education, a Masters Degree in Guidance and Counseling, and a Ph.D in Health Administration.

Office of Academic Services

Dianne Fullenwilder-Bracey, Advisor

Dianne Bracey

Responsibilities – In addition to advising students in the Academic Services Program, Diane coordinates New Student Registration for students in the OAS Program. She also teaches a freshmen success seminar course.

Biography – Dianne is a WIU alumna with a B.S. in Law Enforcement and Justice Administration and a M.S. in Counseling.

Niall Hartnett, Advisor

Niall Hartnett

Responsibilities – 

Biography – Niall was born in Ireland. He came to the USA after receiving a B.A. in Psychology at Trinity College Dublin. He earned a M.S. in Educational Psychology from Indiana University.

Check out Niall's Facebook page for advising help at

Tim Johnson, Advisor

Tim Johnson


Biography – Tim earned his B.A. in Social Work from Augustana College, South Dakota and his M.S. in College Student Personnel from Western Illinois University.

Kelly Morris, Academic Advisor/OAS Statistician

Kelly Morris

Responsibilities – Kelly advises students in the Office of Academic Services (OAS) Program and is the Statistician for the OAS program. She assists students with: study skills, time management, test-taking strategies and note-taking. She gathers/reports data on OAS student performance at the end of each term. She particularly enjoys working with her students as they are learning to navigate their educational careers. "It is particularly gratifying to walk alongside (and sometimes guide) students as they are experiencing the 'Aha' moments" says Kelly.

Biography – Kelly earned her B.A. in Elementary Education and her M.A. in Math Education from the University of Northern Iowa. She began her career as an Elementary Teacher in Aurora, Colorado, for a few years. Kelly found her niche and has been working in Higher Education since 1991.

Renee Simpson, Advisor/Student Success Coordinator

Renee Simpson

Responsibilities – Renee advises students in the Academic Services Program and teaches the University 100, Personal Growth in Higher Education, a life skills transitional course for incoming freshmen. In addition, Renee is committed to exploring and researching new retention initiatives strategies for the University.

Biography – Renee received a B.S. in Sociology from the University of Wyoming and earned her M.S. in Liberal Arts from Western Illinois University.

Support Staff

Debbie Carithers, Office Manager

Responsibilities – Debbie serves as an assistant to the UAASC Director by providing clerical support for the activities that involve the Center and the academic advising community.
Biography – Debbie has a B.S. in Photography/Media and a M.S. in Instruction Design and Technology from Western Illinois University.

Cheryl Rossio, Staff Clerk

Cheryl Rossio

Responsibilities – Cheryl serves as the processor for all freshman applications to the University that are referred to the Academic Services program, creating and maintaining all admission records for the Academic Services Program as well as corresponding with student applicants, parents and high school personnel.

Biography – Cheryl has a Bachelor of Arts in General Studies minoring in Sociology and Family and Consumer Science from Western Illinois University.

Graduate Students

Geoff Hamilton

Geoff Hamilton

Responsibilities – Working with University Advising students.

Biography – Geoff Hamilton received a B.S. in both Mathematics and Economics from Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon.  He enjoys napping in his hammock and considers himself an avid Star Wars fan.  Geoff is currently a second year graduate student in the College Student Personnel Program at Western Illinois University.