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Kudos for GSIs and their faculty mentors

| 25 August 2005

Each spring, the Advisory Committee for Graduate Student Instructor Affairs and the GSI Teaching and Resource Center bestow the Outstanding GSI (OGSI) Awards, Teaching Effectiveness Awards (TEA), and the Faculty Award for Outstanding Mentorship of GSIs upon talented newbie instructors and the faculty who guide them.

Winning essays
Read a winning essay from 2005, along with a statement of mentoring philosophy from a faculty member honored this year for exemplary service in that role.

While the award ceremonies offer an occasion to celebrate the excellence of GSIs and exemplary faculty mentors, their sponsors have engineered a secondary instructive benefit. Each year some 400 current and previous OGSI honorees are invited to submit an essay describing a problem they encountered in teaching, a pedagogical solution to that problem, and the methods they used to assess the overall project; approximately 100 such essays are eventually received. From that pool, the authors of 15 essays each year are selected for a Teaching Effectiveness Award; their compositions are posted on the GSI Teaching and Resource Center's website (gsi.berkeley.edu/awards/mentor.html).

At the TEA awards ceremony this past spring, Graduate Division Dean Mary Ann Mason told the awardees that when their essays are posted online, "Your teaching ideas become public and can be used by others on campus and beyond."

A handful of faculty receive recognition for their role in contributing to the success of their GSIs. Since 1999, deserving faculty have been rewarded with the Faculty Award for Outstanding Mentorship of GSIs. Two years ago, the California Alumni Association, noting that teaching figured prominently in the recollections of Berkeley alumni, partnered with the Graduate Division in offering the award and provided $3,000 to be divided among a minimum of three recipients. GSIs themselves nominate faculty members to be recognized, and the Graduate Council's Advisory Committee for GSI Affairs reviews the nominations and makes the selections.

"This award allows us simultaneously to reward the work of faculty and get a clear sense of how GSIs define a good mentor," says GSI Teaching and Resource Center director Linda von Hoene. Another goal of the award is to highlight the connection between faculty mentorship of GSIs and the quality of undergraduate courses.

The most recent recipients of the faculty-mentorship award are Dana Buntrock, associate professor of architecture; Ole Hald, professor of mathematics; John McNamara, a lecturer in art practice; and Steven Vogel, associate professor of political science. Their statements of mentoring philosophy, now available online, says von Hoene, provide an opportunity for faculty "to read about, and adapt for their own use, the excellent ideas of their peers."