Seven L&S Faculty Honored for Distinguished Advising and Research Mentoring

By Terry Strathman and Susan Hagstrom, November 5, 2003

On September 22nd the College honored recipients of the L&S Awards for Distinguished Faculty Advising and Distinguished Research Mentoring of Undergraduates. The three advisers, Hubert Dreyfus (Philosophy), Marilyn Fabe (Film Studies), and Robert Jacobsen (Physics), and the four research mentors, Bruce Cain (Political Science), Anne Cheng (English), John Forte (MCB) and Charles McClain (Legal Studies), received their awards and shared their personal stories and insights on mentoring and advising undergraduates in their fields.

Undergraduate Division Dean Robert Holub moderated the event. "Faculty in the departments play a critical role in introducing undergraduates to the intellectual landscape of the campus, and the major area of study," said Holub. "In an institution as large as Berkeley, personal contact with a faculty member is especially meaningful."

This was apparent in the nomination letters for the Rhoda H. Goldman Award for Distinguished Faculty Advising of Undergraduates, an award that recognizes faculty members who have made a significant contribution to undergraduate education by offering outstanding counsel and guidance to undergraduates in planning their academic and professional careers. Holub noted "an infectious enthusiasm for the field, an open door, extraordinary listening skills, and the ability to see the student as an individual" as qualities students cited in their nominations.

Hubert Dreyfus, Marilyn Fabe, Robert Jacobsen
Recipients of the Rhoda H. Goldman Award for Distinguished Faculty Advising of Undergraduates, 2003: Hubert Dreyfus, Marilyn Fabe, Robert Jacobsen.

The 2003 Distinguished Advisers were asked what they value in advising. "I don't really enjoy it," said Hubert Dreyfus with a laugh. "I would rather be swimming, listening to music or doing my own research. I do it because students need advice, as I did when I was an undergraduate." Marilyn Fabe shared that "one of the rewards of advising is that students are so interesting. You get to know their stories, including their prison records, and the heroic things they went through to get to Berkeley." "Why do I spend so much time with all those students?" Robert Jacobsen asked. "Because they're willing to spend time with me, talking about things that really matter."

The L&S Award for Distinguished Research Mentoring of Undergraduates recognizes faculty members who create extraordinary research opportunities for students beyond the classroom, and who devote unusual time and effort to encouraging and developing undergraduate researchers. The 2003 Distinguished Research mentors had an array of approaches and insights.

Anne Cheng, John Forte, Charles McClain, Bruce Cain
2003 Distinguished Research Mentoring of Undergraduates award recipients: Anne Cheng, John Forte, Charles McClain, Bruce Cain.

Anne Cheng, who works with the Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program called it "a win-win situation. I get so much help when I send my team of detectives out to root around," she said. "It's the synergy that happens that makes mentoring undergraduates so stimulating." John Forte called the mentoring in his lab "a team effort," and acknowledged the post-docs and grad students who work together to make his lab a "second home" to so many of his undergraduate "lab rats." Charles McClain pointed out that mentoring can create lasting friendships. "It is an extremely gratifying kind of experience," he noted, "and is enormously time consuming if done well." Bruce Cain was in Washington D.C., but Dan Enemark, one of his undergraduate researchers, read comments from students attesting to mentoring done well. Cain has created exceptional opportunities for students to do and publish research, and has offered unstinting support and guidance.

The colloquium was a moving testimony to some of Berkeley's finest educators—and to the lasting graditude of the students they have advised and mentored.


Calls for 2003-2004 Nominations

March 5, 2004 Deadline

The Rhoda H. Goldman Award for Undergraduate Advising is designed to recognize faculty members who have made a significant contribution to undergraduate education by offering outstanding counsel and guidance to undergraduates in planning their academic and professional careers.

The Distinguished Research Mentoring Award seeks to recognize faculty members who create extraordinary research opportunities for students beyond the classroom, and who devote unusual time and effort to encouraging and developing undergraduate researchers.

Any Berkeley student, faculty, or staff member may initiate a nomination. However, they must do so by March 5, 2004.


The L & S colloquia, which take place once or twice each semester, provide opportunities to learn about and discuss the overarching issues affecting undergraduate education at U C Berkeley. For more information on upcoming or past programs, contact Alix Schwartz at alix@uclink4.berkeley.edu or (510) 642-8378.

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