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Doctoral Mentor Award Winners Lauded by Students and Colleagues Alike

Old Dominion University's first Doctoral Mentor Awards were presented at the faculty awards night Tuesday, May 6, to John Ford, professor of marketing; Stacey Plichta, chair of the College of Community and Environmental Health; Ravindra Joshi, University Professor of electrical and computer engineering; and Lepsha Vuskovic, professor of physics. Each received a plaque and a $3,000 prize.

Philip Langlais, the vice provost for graduate studies and research, and who was responsible for establishing the award, said students and faculty members submitted 31 nominations. A committee composed of the university's associate deans selected 12 finalists and then narrowed the list down to the four winners, who represented the four eligibility categories: social and behavioral sciences, business and public administration; humanities and fine arts, education and health sciences; engineering and life and physical sciences.

Essays about mentoring submitted by the nominees will be published on the Office of Graduate Studies Web site, Langlais said.

Here is more about the winners:

John Ford, a faculty member since 1985, was described by a student: "He has been my role model in terms of having extremely high ethical standards of honesty and integrity in teaching and researching, and clear and honest communications with others. I aspire to be as thoughtful of a mentor to my students as he has been to me and my fellow ODU alumni and current students as well as to others in the field." Added a colleague, "He is always available to his students and I frequently see him discussing research projects with them. He is a demanding professor who has high expectations and pushes his students to reach their full potentials as scholars."

Stacey Plichta, a faculty member since 1995, got high marks from students and former students. One wrote: "In many aspects, Dr. Plichta served as my role model. I aspire to emulate her professionalism, character, and the rapport she had with her students." Plichta wrote in her essay: "Mentorship, at its heart, is about forming a strong, trusting and on-going relationship with those we seek to teach. In part, it is to ground them in the fundamental values and skills of our discipline, but there is also an inherent value in the relationship itself. Mentorship is about focusing on the whole student, not just their academic progress, and about letting the student know that we truly care about their professional and personal development."

Ravindra Joshi, a faculty member since 1995, was praised by a student: "I have been with the electrical and computer engineering department for the last six years, and there is no other faculty member that has influenced me with their positive attributes as much as Dr. Joshi. Mentoring awards, apart from honoring the pedagogical excellence, also recognize the ability of a faculty to step above and beyond the official obligations and do his/her utmost in guiding and nurturing the students to new levels. There is no one else in this university who to my knowledge embodies these qualities so completely." A colleague wrote: "He expects much from his students, mentoring and educating them within the classroom and beyond, and displays a spirit of genuine eagerness to help students grasp difficult concepts."

Lepsha Vuscovic, a faculty member since 1993, was praised by a student: "Because of her professional achievements and great care for her students, her research group has always been able to attract the top students to her Ph.D. program. I still remember how proud I was to be in her program and how disappointed some other students were since they couldn't get in due to the limited openings for research assistants." A colleague wrote: "She has dedicated herself to her students, far beyond what is required, and stands out as an exceptional mentor, not just for her own students, but for all the students in the Physics Department."

Other finalists were: Frank Day and Mark Butler, biological sciences; Vijayan Asari, electrical and computer engineering; Chuh Mei, aerospace engineering; Luisa Igloria, English; Linda Bol, curriculum and instruction; Debra Major, psychology; and Berhanu Mengistu, urban studies and public administration.

This article was posted on: May 7, 2008

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