Remarks by President Denise Trauth
Location: Reed parr room, 11th floor JCK Building.
Thank you so much for asking me to be with you today.
The last three months have been incredible for me. I’ve met such nice people and learned so much about this wonderful university. I’m getting pretty good at putting names with faces, and I see many faces here that are familiar. If we haven’t met, please introduce yourself after this lunch. I’d like to meet you.
Of course I’m glad to be here at Southwest Texas. You’ve probably heard me say that. But along the way, I’ve been discovering little things here and there that make me glad all over again. One of those things is the Mariel Muir Mentoring Award. What a wonderful thing to reward mentoring! Not many universities do that; I’m proud of Southwest Texas for recognizing the value of mentoring. And I understand that the award is named for a particularly active mentor, a former dean. I wish I had had the privilege of knowing her.
Fourteen years ago when I was the new associate dean of the Graduate College at Bowling Green, I was asked what topic I would choose for an address to new graduate students. I chose mentoring. I chose that topic because I believe that mentoring plays a large role in success at all levels. When I went to UNC-Charlotte as graduate dean, I was asked to develop a strategic plan for the Graduate School. One of the goals we articulated was the establishment of a mentoring award. I am pleased that two years ago UNC-Charlotte was able to make the first award. So you can imagine how pleased I was to see that Southwest Texas has an annual mentoring award.
In Greek mythology, “faithful and wise” Mentor was Odysseus’ trusted counselor, a wise man entrusted with the education of Odysseus. Today you might think of Yoda in Star Wars or Gandalf in Lord of the Rings. But not all mentors are shriveled little pointy-eared creatures or old men with long gray beards, are they, Joann [Smith, honoree]?
Today we refer to a mentor as a “person higher in the organization or more experienced who serves as coach, teacher, exemplar, counselor, provider of moral support, and facilitator of the realization of the protégé’s dream.
But a mentor also pushes her student. A good mentor creates an environment in which the protégé continues to be stretched and challenged by what may seem to be, at times, unreasonable demands upon time, energy and capabilities. However, these demands are made within the context of a relationship in which the mentor has in mind the best interests of the protégé.
So, we have established that mentors are wonderful and we’re here to honor two people who are, indeed, wonderful. But what if you’re out there thinking that mentors do sound wonderful and you’d like to have one? How do you find one? My advice is to pick out role models who exhibit qualities and traits that you admire and wish to emulate. Identification with role models can be one of the most powerful growth facilitators and behavior modifiers available to you. This is a big university. Look around and I’m sure you’ll find someone worth emulating. And most people, particularly in a university setting I think, are flattered to be asked to be mentors, so don’t be afraid to ask.
This mentor-protégé relationship can help you work on several essentials for succeeding in an academic setting, whether you’re faculty or staff. Let me be your mentor a moment and give you some of what I have come to believe are essentials in this success:
Today we want to honor two among us — one faculty and one staff — for their mentoring efforts. Our first honoree is from the Division of Student Affairs. She has served as a leader of many teams in the division and adviser to two Greek student organizations. She has enthusiastically participated in the Mentoring Program since its beginning, frequently serving as mentor to two or more students at the same time. She has been honored by the program as an outstanding mentor and as Staff Mentor of the Year. One letter of nomination read, “She literally cannot cross campus without being greeted warmly by students she has worked with or advised in some capacity. She knows them all, and her ability to remember details about their lives demonstrates the depth of her caring for individual students. We are privileged to present the Mariel Muir Excellence in Mentoring Award to our associate vice president for student affairs, Joann Smith.
Our faculty honoree has been a professional journalist at metropolitan newspapers in Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, San Antonio, Fort Worth and Houston. He is passionate about his profession and passes the benefit of this passion and experience on to his students. He has been honored with numerous teaching awards, including the 2001 Teacher of the Year Award from the Freedom Forum. He advises two student organizations, mentors other faculty members as well as students, sits on the advisory board of the student newspaper and advises theses — all activities requiring personal relationship with students outside the classroom. One writer said that whenever weather permits, you will see him sitting with one of his students on a bench between Old Main and the Art Building in deep discussion about career opportunities or a specific class project. We are delighted to present the Mariel Muir Excellence in Mentoring Award to mass communications associate professor Fred Blevens.
Grace Murray Hopper, (1906-91), U.S. mathematician, naval officer and computer pioneer.