Four win awards for excellence in graduate education

Four faculty and staff members are being recognized for their work by the Division of Graduate Studies.  

Cheri Smith, Maile Hutterer, Jerry Rosiek and Kayla Robinson were selected as winners of the 2022 Graduate Education Excellence Awards. 

Rosiek, a professor of education studies in the College of Education, won the Excellence Award for Outstanding Graduate Mentorship. He said he was moved reading the nomination letters students submitted. 

“It was surprising to see some of the things — interactions, comments, assignments — that were especially meaningful to the students,” he said. “It just underscores to me that you never really know what you do that may impact someone. It reinforces that we should always do our best to be present for others, let them know we enjoy their company and unique talents and character, and give our best, especially when teaching.” 

Mentoring graduate students is both professional and personal work, Rosiek said. He added his goal is to develop individual relationships with the students he mentors and guide them through the struggles and joys of graduate studies.  

With each excellence award, $2,000 is granted in the winner’s name to one or more graduate students in the recipient’s department. Rosiek said the recipients have not been selected, but the funds will likely go to help with conference travel expenses. 

Hutterer won the Excellence Award for Directors of Graduate Studies. She is an associate professor in the College of Design’s Department of the History of Art and Architecture.

The award money will go to student Rae Root for research travel to support her dissertation on contemporary art. Hutterer said she’s thrilled that the award goes back to funding student research and exciting opportunities. 

“As director of graduate studies one of the things that I really wanted was to cultivate a culture of care and belonging,” she said. “The graduate students in our department bring so much value as thinkers, teachers and colleagues. It is incredibly important to me that they feel supported. Graduate school will always be challenging, but it should be challenging for the right reasons.” 

This year the Excellence Award for Graduate Coordinators went to both Smith and Robinson.  

Smith said she was taken aback to learn how many nominations she’d received from faculty members and students. It’s because of them that she does what she does, Smith said. She has been a graduate coordinator for nearly a decade. 

“My continued hope is that I make students feel welcome, that they can come to me any time when they need assistance, and that I can help them make their way through the program with as much confidence and clarity as possible,” she said. “I know that graduate school can be very overwhelming and stressful, so I do what I can to help relieve some of that stress for the students, and for faculty.” 

Part of the funding from Smith’s award has helped fund a graduate poster contest in the Department of Computer and Information Science, and the rest will go to students who need help with conference travel and other graduate activities.

Robinson also was recognized by students, staff and faculty members, who commented on Robinson’s kindness, helpful communication, organization, advocacy and community-building efforts to support graduate students.  

“It was truly inspiring to read about the impact that Robinson, as a graduate coordinator who works very closely, daily with graduate students, is having on graduate students’ well-being, sense of belonging in their academic program and at the UO, and how consistently she goes above and beyond her role to convey to students that they are valued,” said Vice Provost for Graduate Studies Krista Chronister.

Robinson works in the Department of Linguistics.   

By Chelsea Hunt, Office of the Provost