May 06, 2011

Bader, Lake Named Jackson Award Winners

This year’s winners of the J. Bruce Jackson, MD, Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Mentoring are from very different areas of expertise, but both have one undeniable trait in common: an exceptional ability to mentor undergraduate students.

J. Bruce Jackson (ADL ’52) established the award in honor of Dean Carl F. Wittke, who served as an adviser, mentor and friend to Jackson as an undergraduate student. The Jackson Award honors faculty members who have made substantial positive impacts on their students’ lives by guiding students in their academic and career paths; fostering long-term personal development; challenging them to reflect, explore and grow as individuals; and supporting and/or facilitating their goals and life choices.

This year’s Jackson Award recipients are James Bader and Erin L. Lake.

James Bader
James Bader

As the father of six, James Bader has been giving advice for years, and it’s that parental experience that helps shape his mentoring style with the biology students who come through his door day in and day out.

“These are somebody’s sons and daughters,” Bader said. “I treat them as I hope other faculty treat my own kids.”

Bader, a lecturer in biology and the director of the Center for Science and Mathematics Education, also credits the fact that the students at Case Western Reserve are so motivated. “It is really fun to work with kids who you know are going to go on and do great things and to be able to play some role in encouraging them and supporting them,” he said.

Bader joined the Department of Biology in 1983, when he started as a graduate student. Now, he prepares students for life during undergraduate education and beyond.

“Having a professor [who] was so easy to get along with and who would give me his undivided attention whenever I needed it made [him] a mentor I could really trust—not just for advice, but to listen to me and give me a place to verbally work out what I wanted to do after college,” said a student nominator, who will be attending graduate school thanks to Bader’s assistance.

Whether seeking advice or just wanting to talk about the latest news on campus, Bader’s accessibility made him a great mentor to students in his introductory biology, aquatic biology and microbiology courses. “I have never met a professor during my entire education that has given me more help, support or encouragement than Jim Bader,” a nominator said.

Erin Lake
Erin L. Lake

Erin L. Lake came to Case Western Reserve University five years ago, and she’s already made a huge impact on her Spartan students.

As the assistant athletic trainer and an instructor, Lake works with student-athletes and students in the sports medicine program. She teaches courses such as Physiology of Exercise and Therapeutic Exercise and Modalities, where she gets to know the students individually. From there, she adapts her classes to their needs because, she said, “Each class has its own personality.”

Such personal touches make her a favorite among students and a faculty member who students feel they can trust. “Throughout my CWRU career,” one nominator wrote, “Erin was a genuinely caring and invested mentor. She was willing to take time out of her demanding schedule to teach subject material and clinical techniques that gave me trouble. By taking the time to teach and get to know me, Erin learned about me as a person, not just as a student in one of her classes.”

Another nominator gave a similar assessment, writing that Lake was “the big sister I always wanted growing up. As my professor, Erin was always professional, sometimes stern, but also fair and approachable,” the nominator wrote.

Lake, who was “in complete shock” when she heard about the award, credits the students and student-athletes with whom she works for making the office hours and training room time pay off for everyone. “They are going to go on and do incredible things,” she said. “If I can somehow assist even one of them along the way, it makes all the hours worthwhile.”

Posted by: Emily Mayock, May 6, 2011 09:07 AM | News Topics:

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