Heller announces winners of 2011 Teaching and Mentoring Awards

April 14, 2011

The Heller School announced the winners of the 2011 Teaching and Mentoring Awards on April 14, 2011. Students and recent alumni of Heller's six degree programs submitted nominations for the awards; the final selections were made by a committee composed of Heller faculty, students, staff, and alumni.

Teaching Award

For excellence in fostering excitement about learning, stimulating intellectual curiosity, and challenging and inspiring students to become engaged citizens of the world, this year's winner of the Teaching Award is Professor Susan L. Parish, PhD, MSW.  Professor Parish is Nancy Lurie Marks Professor of Disability Policy and Director of the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy. She joined the faculty in the fall of 2010.  Her research examines the health and financial well-being of children and adults with disabilities, as well as their caregiving families. She is particularly interested in family support, the health of women with intellectual disabilities, and the impact of health policies and poverty policies on people with disabilities and their families. Parish teaches classes in disability policy and both quantitative and qualitative research methods.

In making the decision about the teaching award, the selection committee was impressed with - indeed awed by - the unanimity of students' enthusiasm for the way that Susan Parish challenges them in the classroom.  What became clear in reviewing the nominations was that Susan Parish, through a potent combination of energy, expertise, and respect for students, creates a community of learning in the classroom in which individual students are both emboldened and sharpened as critical thinkers.

In nominating Professor Parish, her students said the following:

"I took Professor Parish's Research Methods Class.  She took a subject that could have been dry and made it into something exciting, relevant, morally and emotionally engaging and intellectually challenging.  And in the process [she] masterfully facilitated a lively, open and always entertaining class."

"Susan is a fabulous example of how someone can balance being a notable research scholar and also a great teacher.  I recommend her for this award because I could take any subject with her and absolutely wake up excited to come to class that day."

Mentoring Award

For outstanding support and encouragement of the research, education, professional and personal development of Heller students, this year's Mentoring Award goes to Professor Susan Holcombe, PhD. Professor Holcombe's teaching and publication builds on a career of practice and a focus on building capabilities for human development. She has been a faulty member at Heller since 2001.  She was Program Director for Oxfam America and has served in various positions with UNFPA, UNIFEM and UNICEF in New York and in field postings. Currently Professor Holcombe teaches several courses in the MA and MS Programs in Sustainable International Development, including Frameworks for Development; Demographics of Development; and Managing Policy and Practice Change in Health Systems. 

In making the decision about the Mentoring Award, the committee was moved by the fact that students lauded Susan Holcombe's mentoring in a broad array of areas, from the professional to the personal.  It was clear that not only does she counsel students about courses and career choices, but she is interested in their entire selves - she is generous with her time and she reaches out to students as much as they reach out to her.

Students nominating Professor Holcombe said the following:

"My reasons for nominating Professor Holcombe are twofold.  First, she devoted substantial time in supporting me with valuable guidance to develop my career ambitions.  Second, she is very meticulous in her approach to duty and ensures that students work hard to achieve their academic laurels."

"She is always open to guide me if and when I seek out her assistance.  She is sensitive to one's personal life and provides sweet advice to help me reach my full potential."

"She has mentored me from a shy young woman to a confident development worker."

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