The deans of the Graduate School are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2012 Excellence Awards, recognizing exceptional work by faculty and staff who lead and manage graduate programs. The awards were conferred on Monday, July 4, during the spring meeting of the directors of graduate studies in the Knight Library Browsing Room.
Donna Overall, who has recently retired after nearly three decades of service in the Department of Biology, received the Excellence Award for Graduate Coordinators.
In addition to the recommendation of her department head, eight former and current graduate students in the Institute of Molecular Biology signed a letter in support of Overall’s nomination, noting the “positive, patient, and friendly attitude” she always brought to the job.
Those in attendance seemed particularly impressed to learn that Overall made a habit of sending a card to every biology graduate student on his or her birthday. “This is something that is truly valuable,” the letter of recommendation noted, “in that it fosters a feeling of unity within the department and a desire to contribute to its continuing success.”
Krista Chronister, associate professor of counseling psychology, was named the winner of the Excellence Award for Directors of Graduate Studies.
In her nomination, Chronister’s “passionate leadership” was invoked by 22 graduate students from the counseling psychology program. They praised her willingness to go beyond “basic training needs” and actively address other areas of concern for grad students—proactively collecting and sharing information on financial aid and scholarships, university support systems, and professional identity development. They also hold her in high regard as a strong advocate for students and a dedicated facilitator of student/faculty dialogues through her “town hall” meetings.
“She is a unique treasure,” wrote one student, and another suggested, “She deserves all the accolades in the world.”
Jennifer Freyd, professor of psychology, became the inaugural recipient of the Excellence Award for Outstanding Mentorship in Graduate Studies.
Seven students from her lab nominated Freyd for this award. They cited her commitment to providing “outstanding, generous, and effective” academic and professional guidance tailored to the needs of individual students, while simultaneously fostering their development as “whole people.”
“Dr. Freyd models for us what it looks like to be a successful researcher who remains firmly grounded in the human side,” one of the students wrote. Another praised her implementation of what she calls “walks and talks” –bimonthly meetings with each of her students to promote “the need for balance in all aspects of life.”
Each of the Excellence Award recipients was honored with a commemorative plaque. In addition, the Coordinator and Mentor awardees received $250 gift cards, while the DGS received funding for a $500 travel/research award in her name, to be granted to a student or students in her department.
Developed by the Graduate School in 2011, the Excellence Award for Directors of Graduate Studies and the Excellence Award for Graduate Coordinators are intended to recognize the good work of faculty and staff and to provide a venue for disseminating best practices that enhance graduate education at the University of Oregon. New for 2012, the Excellence Award for Outstanding Mentorship of Graduate Students was inaugurated to honor those who provide the committed mentorship that is essential to strong graduate programs.