Published: May 3, 2018

Graduate School announces Outstanding Mentoring Awards for 2018

Contact(s): Judith Stoddart Graduate School office: (517) 353-3220, Beth Brauer University Communications

Michigan State University's Graduate School recently announced the 2018 recipients of the Graduate School Outstanding Mentoring Awards.

The purpose of the awards is to recognize graduate programs, faculty mentors and doctoral students who exemplify mentoring best practices. The three separate award categories are Outstanding Graduate Program Community Award, Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award and Outstanding Doctoral Student Mentor Award.

Winners were notified by email May 1, and will receive both a plaque and monetary award.

Outstanding Graduate Program Community Award

The winner of the 2018 award is the Second Language Studies doctoral program in the College of Arts and Letters.

The selection committee was impressed by the variety of mechanisms the program uses to deliver excellent mentoring and professional development opportunities to graduate students. There is an emphasis in fostering ethical research practices, starting with early course work that generates projects often published in peer-reviewed outlets.

The program also supports professional networking by sponsoring visits to MSU by distinguished speakers and by supporting students' travel to professional meetings. The prevalent culture empowers students to create learning communities around special focus areas and reading groups to complement the formal course work. With a focus on applied linguistics, the intellectual landscape is interdisciplinary and the placement record of graduates in national and international institutions is excellent.  

Outstanding Faculty Mentoring Award—Senior Faculty

Michael Allen, University Distinguished Professor of animal science, was nominated by his current and former students for his “open, collaborative approach to inquiry, and his continued development of students well after they received their diplomas.” He was commended for his approach to helping individual students identify their talents and strengths as they decided on career paths, and for his efforts to connect them with a broad network of contacts in academia, government agencies and industry. 

Supporting testimonials from former students included those from individuals who are now senior scientists in industry and government agencies as well as faculty members. All addressed how Allen had prepared them for the careers they wanted in a way that demonstrated that “his interest and care for each of his students is sincere.”  They also commented on the supportive atmosphere in his lab; as an alumnus who is now a department chair put it, “Working in the Allen Research group was one of the greatest teamwork experiences I have known.” 

Outstanding Faculty Mentoring Award—Early Career Faculty

Robert Montgomery, assistant professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, was recognized by his students for the way that he not only helps students excel in research, but also provides them with mentoring in teaching, outreach and leadership.

Montgomery leads by example to demonstrate to his students the importance of “empowering those who are traditionally overlooked” both locally and around the globe, and he involves his mentees in projects that model “engagement built on a foundation of trust and tangible benefits for the community.”

Students value the fact that he mentors them with their “personal career goals in mind,” helping them, in the words of one student, to build a unique degree program that connects with expertise across campus in a way that is truly interdisciplinary. He helps to build collaborative networks for his students in U.S. and international groups and organizations so they can explore a range of career options.

As a current Ph.D. mentee summed it up, “Bob is constantly pushing us to think about the people we want to become.”

Outstanding Doctoral Student Mentor Award

Kathryn (Katie) Vadnais Clements is the winner of the 2018 award. Clements has been actively engaged in mentoring undergraduates and other graduate students during her four years in the Ecological-Community Psychology Program in the Department of Psychology.

At the center of her mentoring activities is her role as instructor in the Adolescent Diversion Project, which is a two-semester undergraduate class in psychology. The goals of the ADP are to provide alternatives to incarceration for young offenders.

Clements’s role is to provide mentoring training for undergraduates that then mentor at-risk individuals in the Lansing area. She has been instrumental in sustaining the program by creating class content and mechanisms for the professional development of those taking the class. Her nomination for the award received substantial support from her peers as well as from undergraduates and from her adviser.