Berkeleyan

Gordon Silverstein with an award for outstanding mentoringGordon Silverstein, professor of political science, was surprised during a recent lecture by a "prize patrol" that presented him with an award for outstanding mentoring of the graduate-student instructors who joined him for a photograph. (Peg Skorpinski photo)

Mentoring is its own reward  but plaques are nice, too

The Grad Division and the Graduate Assembly team up to honor GSIs and the faculty who guide them

| 07 May 2009

Robert ReichRobert Reich, professor of public policy, holds aloft the certificate he received for his mentorship of graduate-student instructors.

The Graduate Division, which oversees graduate education at Berkeley, and the Graduate Assembly, the grad students' government, are making up for lost time. For decades the campus did little to reward the vital role many faculty members play as mentors to their students. Countering that, the two groups have joined forces for the third year in a row, presenting their own faculty honors in a combined April 22 ceremony.

Marianne Constable, professor of rhetoric, and Amani Nuru-Jeter, assistant professor of public health, each received the Graduate Division's Sarlo Distinguished Graduate Student Mentoring Award at that event. Meanwhile, Loren Partridge, professor (and chair) of history of art; Inez Fung, professor of earth and planetary science; and Carla Hesse, professor of history, each were given the Graduate Assembly's Distinguished Faculty Mentoring Award (FMA) to the hearty acclaim of their GSIs, students, and colleagues. The Sarlo Awards honor the mentoring of graduate students, while the slightly more specialized FMA recognition is for mentoring graduate students as researchers.

A week later, a new round of faculty mentoring awards began with "ambush" presentations to Gordon Silverstein, professor of political science, and Robert Reich, professor of public policy. By convenient coincidence, the two teach at the same hour in side-by-side classrooms in Valley Life Sciences Building. A "prize patrol" consisting of representatives from the Academic Senate's Graduate Council and the Graduate Division's GSI Teaching and Resource Center launched friendly takeovers of Silverstein's and Reich's classes, interrupting each in mid-lecture for a brief presentation.

Both were nominated by their graduate-student instructors for the Faculty Award for Outstanding Mentorship of GSIs. Each received his award certificate from the chair of the Graduate Council's Advisory Committee for GSI Affairs, Jeffrey Reimer, who also chairs the chemical-engineering department. Nearly speechless with surprise, Silverstein and Reich were separately, and roundly, applauded by their throngs of students. Then each, using virtually the same words, said, "Where were we?" and resumed his lecture.

The surprises were cooked up because Reich and Silverstein had schedule conflicts and couldn't attend a somewhat more sedate ceremony scheduled for Wednesday, May 6. Three of their colleagues Gillian Hart, professor of geography, Margaretta Lovell, professor of history of art, and Lisa Pruitt, professor of mechanical engineering were to receive the GSI-mentoring award at that gathering. In addition, more than 270 graduate students were to be honored as Outstanding GSIs in the Alumni House ceremony.