2008 Graduate Mentor Award Winners

This year, for the tenth time, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences honored three faculty members for their exemplary qualities as mentors. The honorees were chosen by a committee of students and faculty, in coordination the Graduate Teaching Center. All letters of nomination were anonymous.

Seth Fein, Assistant Professor Of History
Student comments:
“Even though my research interests do not specifically relate to Professor Fein’s scholarship, he genuinely appreciates my intellectual endeavor and is always eager to help me connect with a broad range of individuals, in and outside of Yale, who would be relevant to my project. In his seminars, he challenges me as well as the other students to think more critically, to write better, and to be more precise.”

“Seth plays a more active role in class than other professors, yet does so in a way that avoids stifling or over-determining debate. It was the ideal graduate seminar, where the conversation pushed me to make new connections between disparate themes while also leaving enough loose ends at the end of the night to provoke further thinking and research of my own.”

“When it comes to work outside the classroom, Professor Fein is equally devoted, invested, and excited to take on the mentorship role. Although he is not my main adviser, he stepped up to mentor me in a prospectus tutorial in order to plan my dissertation prospectus, even when this meant staying beyond his office hours or going out of his way to meet with me to discuss intellectual ideas, research plans, or prospects for publication.”

Ellen Lust-Okar, Associate Professor Of Political Science
Student comments:
“Professor Lust-Okar has made great efforts to help me balance my professional and personal life. I have a two-week-old baby and throughout my pregnancy, my advisor offered me a lot of support. She made the effort to work around my time constraints and to help me create a new, workable schedule. She offered me advice on how to divide my workload into manageable tasks that can be more easily combined with motherhood. She has been incredibly supportive, and she gave me confidence that I can successfully balance my work and my family.”

“At the start of the academic year, Ellen continually pestered me to give at least one practice job talk. I finally scheduled a practice talk, and Ellen, of course, showed up. Afterward, Ellen spent about an hour going through her copious notes with me, offering all kinds of useful feedback. I went home a little daunted and later received an email from Ellen suggesting we meet on Saturday for another practice talk. That Saturday, Ellen … offered tons of pointers … and then said: “Let’s do this again tomorrow.” … The next day—Sunday—she showed up with another faculty colleague (she wanted to make sure I got a fresh perspective on my work), and I gave yet another, revised version of my presentation.”

“Ellen wasn’t just trying to help me land a nice tenure-track position (though she certainly did help me to do that), she was actively teaching me what her advisor taught her: how to be a mentor. And I know she expects me to do the same. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of recognition.”

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Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325