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ASU Graduate College Outstanding Faculty Mentors take center stage

outstanding faculty mentor awards
By Rachel Miserlian on March 3, 2020

For the past 33 years, the ASU Graduate College has hosted the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Awards to celebrate the time and effort that faculty members give to support students through mentorship. 

The 2019–20 recipients of the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Awards are Mirka Koro (Outstanding Doctoral Mentor), Tess Neal (Outstanding Master’s Mentor), Gregory Dawson, (Outstanding Instructional Faculty Mentor), and Yang Weng (Outstanding Postdoctoral Mentor).

Amanda Athey, the new Director of Student Support Resources at the Graduate College, highlighted the prestige and honor that these awards carry; this year more than 150 faculty were nominated by their students. 

Keynote Speaker, Dr. Jane Maienschein, University, Regents’, President’s, and Parents Association Professor and Director of the Center for Biology and Society, noted the importance and challenge of valuing mentoring in today’s fast-paced world. Faculty are encouraged to obtain large grants and publish impressive amounts of work, and while those achievements count, mentoring can be less tangible. It’s all the more important to value it here at ASU through events like the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Awards. 

Things got emotional as award recipients were introduced by their nominating students, who then presented their mentor with the award medallion. 

A central theme in the award recipients’ remarks was how important it is to get to know your mentees as individuals in order to serve their unique needs, guiding them through life as a scholar and toward the right career pathway inside or outside of academia. 

“Mentoring offers extremely exciting possibilities to make a difference,” said Mirka Koro, “One unique and special relationship at a time.” 

Recipients Tess Neal and Greg Dawson highlighted how meaningful mentorship has been in their lives by giving them the opportunity to support first-generation students as first-generation college students themselves. 

“I look for opportunities to find newcomers to this academic environment,” said Tess Neal. “I like to look for those chances to help people know that they can fit in and thrive.” 

Greg Dawson shared his personal journey, from the mentors that helped guide him to success to the tragedy that helped him discover his true life motivation — to help other first-generation college students to thank those that helped him. 

For Yang Weng, the most important part of mentorship is trying to make his students even better than he was were when he was in their shoes by sharing his experiences. “When you share knowledge, especially the good news and the bad news, you feel more comfortable moving forward,” Weng said.  

About the recipients

Read the mentoring philosophies of awardees on the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Awards webpage. 

2019-2020 Outstanding Doctoral Mentor — Mirka Koro

Mirka Koro is a Professor of qualitative research and Director of Doctoral Programs at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. Her scholarship operates in the intersection of methodology, philosophy, and socio-cultural critique and her work aims to contribute to methodological knowledge, experimentation, and theoretical development across various traditions associated with qualitative research. 

2019-2020 Outstanding Master’s Mentor — Tess Neal

Tess Neal, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Psychology and founding faculty member of the Law and Behavioral Science group. Her research focuses on experts’ judgments and decisions, especially as relevant to the law. She has funded and mentored 24 students in scientific research skills and professional development through her Clinical and Legal Judgment Lab. Nearly all of her mentees are first-generation college students, most are racial/ethnic minorities, more than a third are members of the LGBTQ+ community, and roughly half are veterans of the armed forces. 

2019-2020 Outstanding Instructional Faculty Member — Gregory Dawson

Gregory S. Dawson is Clinical Associate Professor in the School of Accountancy in the W. P. Carey School of Business. He teaches accounting analytics at the graduate and undergraduate level and has won teaching awards in several different programs. His research explores the legal, social, technical and public policy ramifications of the adoption of analytics in the public and private sector. He has been at ASU since 2008; since 2011, he has been part of 24 honors theses for Barrett, the Honors College, primarily in the role of academic chair. 

2019-2020 Outstanding Postdoctoral Mentor — Yang Weng

Yang Weng is an Assistant Professor at the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering of ASU. Before joining ASU, Yang was the TomKat Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University. Yang has received seven best paper awards in the past seven years, including the Best of Best Paper Award at the International Conference on Probabilistic Methods Applied to Power Systems. In 2018, he won the Chunhui Cup at the International Competition on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. In 2019, his team won the 1st place in Speed and 2nd place in Accuracy for the RTE International Competition: Learning to Run a Power Network. Yang is the educational task force chair for the IEEE PES Subcommittee on Big Data and received the 2019 IEEE Foundation Recognition for his Service of PES Scholarships. 

Think your mentor belongs on this list?  Learn more about the criteria and nomination process and nominate your faculty mentor next year