Every year, the Graduate Division and the Graduate Assembly team up to call public attention to the exemplary and caring assistance individual faculty members have provided, above and beyond the call of duty, to their students.

As the culmination of two separate exhaustive selection processes, they jointly sponsor an awards ceremony that never fails to be an informative, touching love-fest.  It becomes clear, annually, that there are as many ways to help students as there are students who need help and devoted faculty members who find ways to deliver it.

Each organization has its own awards.

The Graduate Division’s are called the Sarlo Distinguished Graduate Mentoring Awards.  Faculty members are nominated for the Sarlo Awards by their former students who benefited from mentoring by their nominees.  Current students may second these nominations.  There are two categories of Sarlo Awards, one for junior faculty and one for senior faculty.  The Grad Division presented its first Sarlo Awards in 2007.

The Graduate Assembly has presented its own Faculty Mentor Awards (FMA) since 2004.  The GA’s awards emphasize mentoring provided to graduate students as they engage in research.

Both programs are accepting nominations from now until February 25, 2011.

The first major toe testing the rewarding-faculty-mentoring-of-graduate-students water belonged to the Graduate Division’s GSI Teaching and Resource Center, which has been presenting its Faculty Award for Outstanding Mentorship of GSIs since 1999.  Those awards honor in particular faculty — from lecturers to full professors — who assist their Graduate Student Instructors to become better teachers, now and in ways that last as they go on in their careers.  Nominations for the GSI Center’s awards will open December 10 and will close March 4, 2011.  Those awards are presented in mid-April, in each individual recipient’s classroom as a surprise.  More information about the GSI Center’s mentorship awards is available on its website.

Berkeley’s executive vice chancellor and provost, political science professor George Breslauer, said at  the Sarlo-FMA presentation ceremony in April of this year that these mentoring awards are emblems of a late-breaking streak of community-building at Berkeley over the last decade or so.  Having been here for 39 years, he’s a recognized authority on the subject.  When he was a new faculty member in the 1970s, “there was very little of that.”  The recent proliferation of recognition opportunities are, he said, “in an institution of this size and this stature absolutely necessary and the right thing to do.”

Our colleagues, he said, “deserve to be acknowledged publicly for the great service they perform for their students, and such celebrations are immensely powerful influences on people’s lives.  They affirm as valuable to the campus community the best that we have displayed of what is already within us, and they reinforce the notion that what you hold dear, your colleagues also hold dear.”

For the graduate students themselves, he continued, “the attention, the assistance, the encouragement, and the esteem that they receive” from these faculty members “is psychologically as important as the formal instruction and the substantive feedback that they receive on their work.”

A Quick Guide to the Similarities and Distinctions of the Major Faculty Awards for Mentoring of Grad Students

Award: Sarlo Distinguished Graduate Student Mentoring Award
Eligible: Academic Senate members (two award categories, one for any rank, one for untenured)
Honoring: High-quality mentoring of graduate students
Who may nominate: Department chairs, faculty colleagues, former students; others may add supporting letters
Nomination deadline: February 25, 2011 (open now)
Presentation: April 27 (at joint Graduate Division/Graduate Assembly event)
Sponsor: Graduate Division (with a grant from the Sarlo Foundation, a supporting foundation of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, and Sonoma Counties)
Award: Distinguished Faculty Mentor Award
Eligible: Academic  Senate members from lecturer  to full professor
Honoring: Outstanding commitment to mentoring, developing, and supporting graduate students in research
Who may nominate: Graduate students who have benefited directly from nominee’s mentoring/advising
Nomination deadline: February 25, 2011 (open now)
Presentation: April 27 (at joint Graduate Division/Graduate Assembly event)
Sponsor: Graduate Assembly
Award: Faculty Award for Outstanding Mentorship of GSIs
Eligible: Senate and non-Senate faculty
Honoring: Outstanding mentorship of GSIs in their teaching and preparation for their future teaching careers
Who may nominate: Current and former GSIs of the nominee
Nomination deadline: March 4, 2011 (accepting nominations beginning December 10, 2010)
Presentation: Mid-April, as a surprise in each recipient’s classroom during class
Sponsor: Graduate Division’s GSI Teaching and Resource Center and the Graduate Council’s Advisory Committee for GSI Affairs

Categories: Featured in eGrad: December 2010, Graduate Division Announcements
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