The positive impact Case Western Reserve University professors have on the lives of their students is recognized annually with the J. Bruce Jackson, M.D. Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Mentoring.
The recognition honors outstanding advising and mentoring of undergraduate students. The Jackson Award celebrates those who have guided a student toward the discovery of academic and career paths; fostered the student's long-term personal development; challenged the student to reflect, explore and grow as an individual; and supported and/or facilitated the student's goals and life choices.
This year's recipients are William Deal and Renée M. Sentilles. Read more.
William Deal helps his students realize their full potential by tailoring his interaction with them to their needs.
"Students need different things at different points in their academic career and lives," said Deal, a first-time Jackson Award winner.
A student nominator wrote that Deal "changes the lives of every person he meets. He challenges me to be a better scholar and a better person. Professor Deal inspired me to major in religious studies because of the opportunities available to change peoples' view of the world. He started by changing mine."
Instead of viewing what he does as mentoring, Deal said his primary goal is to listen to his students in order to create a unique learning experience. Throughout his career, he has watched many of his students figure out the path in life they want to explore, an experience he described as "enormously gratifying."
A professor at Case Western Reserve for 21 years, Deal has taught courses on theory and interpretation in the academic study of religion, comparative religious ethics, and East Asian religious and ethical traditions. He holds a secondary appoint as professor of cognitive science. Outside of the classroom he is a faculty representative on the student-run Academic Integrity Board. He's been nominated for several university awards, and was a recipient of the Zeta Psi Fraternity Faculty of the Year Award in 2000.
The Jackson recognition comes at a significant point in his career. He is scheduled to be on sabbatical during the fall 2010 semester. "My teaching style has changed over the years. I'm reinventing my own intellectual interests," he said. Deal, author of two books and dozens of articles, plans to write and conduct research during his sabbatical.
Renée M. Sentilles grew up in a family of educators, so her desire to teach and mentor is natural.
"I grew up believing students were important. Teaching is about being unselfishly interested in helping students figure out what they need to do," Sentilles said.
A Case Western Reserve faculty member for 10 years, she said history is a way to "open up people's lives and help them understand the world. So much of the present is about the past."
Although she teaches about the past she's helped many of her students maneuver their present and beyond.
"Professor Sentilles completely changed my future," a nominator wrote. Under the tutelage of Sentilles, the nominator co-founded a history club and discovered a passion for American women's and gender history. "She has written countless recommendation letters for me for research programs and graduate school applications. After my first acceptance, she even took the time to send an email to my mother, saying she wanted to congratulate her 'mom to mom.' When I'm a professor I want to be a teacher, mentor and friend" like her, the nominator wrote.
Sentilles is director of the history department's undergraduate studies program and teaches courses in American history focused on culture, gender, women and children. She also is the faculty adviser for the university's Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance. She has written a book and several articles and essays, and is the 2010 recipient of the Jessica Melton Perry Award for Distinguished Teaching in Disciplinary & Professional Writing.
She is most proud of her work with students. "Mentoring is an important part of teaching. You get to watch students grow and become stronger. It's like being a gardener," Sentilles said of planting seeds of knowledge and then watching students blossom.
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