Graduate College

According to Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) surveys (2009, 2012), faculty mentoring is one of the most impactful tools in graduate student success, academically and professionally, and is a cornerstone of the faculty-graduate student relationship.

Mentoring allows graduate students to gain the important discipline-specific tools, languages and cultures of their academic areas, accruing critical competencies and self-efficacies. It provides an opportunity to join and navigate their larger professional and scholarly communities, forming relationships as junior colleagues that will influence their career trajectories. Finally, mentoring provides invaluable emotional support – which, among CGS survey respondents, is listed among its greatest values.

In recognition of the important role of faculty mentors in the scholarly and personal lives of graduate students, the Graduate College recognizes faculty who excel in their mentoring duties at its Outstanding Faculty Mentor Awards.

This year marks the thirty-first year of this annual recognition ceremony. In the past, these awards specifically recognized the impact of doctoral committee chairs, but the 2017 awards highlighted the growing importance of graduate mentoring at all levels, additionally honoring outstanding Master’s committee chairs and outstanding faculty advisors and both informal and formal mentors.

Over 250 graduate faculty were nominated by their graduate students and colleagues this year. Awardees were selected after a rigorous three-stage review process that included review of their curriculum vitae, letters of support from both students and department chairs and a statement of mentoring philosophy from each faculty member. Additionally, every nominated faculty member was required to demonstrate having successfully mentored no less than three graduate students  through graduate school. In addition to an honorary medallion, each recipient received a research/travel award.

Nearly seventy faculty, graduate students, and college administrators filled the Memorial Union building’s Alumni Lounge to show support, see their colleagues or faculty advisors in the spotlight, and draw inspiration as the outstanding mentor awardees, Bertha Alvarez Manninen (School of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies, New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences), Nancy Serwint (School of Art, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts), and Amber Wutich (Center for Global Health/School of Human Evolution and Social Change, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences) shared their often moving personal stories and mentoring philosophies.

Complete biographies and mentoring statements for this year’s recipients can be found on the Graduate College Mentoring Network (GCMN) website: