Four professors recognized as mentors

By Jackson DeMos

Four USC Annenberg professors recently won a 2010-2011 USC Mellon Award for Excellence in Mentoring

The USC Mellon Mentoring Awards honor individual faculty for helping build a supportive academic environment at USC through mentoring. Communication professors Sandra Ball-Rokeach (pictured, top left), Michael Cody and G. Thomas Goodnight each won a "faculty mentoring graduate students" award, and journalism professor Serena Cha won a "faculty mentoring undergraduate students" award.

"These prestigious awards to our faculty members make a powerful statement about the high priority the USC Annenberg School places on nurturing the next generation within the classroom and beyond, and about the high quality of our professors," Dean Ernest J. Wilson III said.

Michael CodyCody (pictured, right) said he felt honored, gratified and happy to have been singled out for the Mellon Award.

"To me, mentoring is listening to others in order to understand their interests and needs — and to find a framework in order to understand where they are and to identify the pathways that might move them toward success," Cody said. "I advise many students each semester, and have been doing so since 1982. It means a lot to me that time listening and talking and writing letters of recommendation for students is acknowledged as an important professorial act."

Goodnight (pictured, below left), also the director of doctoral studies, has been influential to countless students, including communication professor Paolo Sigismondi (Ph.D. Communication '09). Goodnight was Sigismondi's advisor and chair of his dissertation committee.

"He is an outstanding scholar and mentor, whose intellectual curiosity and generosity, combined with his academic integrity, set a bright example to follow," Sigismondi said.

Cha (pictured, below right) said she loves to help students gain confidence and do what they never imagined they could accomplish.

/images/faculty/goodnight_121x182.jpg"It's rewarding to see students make big breakthroughs," Cha said. "I like to help as many students and alumni as possible."

Undergraduate Broadcast Journalism student Kristen Steach said she admires Cha's dedication to the careers of the many students who have participated at Annenberg TV News.

"Serena makes all of her students a priority, giving them the advice they need to succeed in broadcast journalism," Steach said. "Serena guided me from the very beginning of my college career, encouraging me to pursue internship and job opportunities. She taught me valuable lessons in producing that I will take with me as I begin my first job as a broadcast news producer. She has taught me how to be an objective journalist who values quality reporting."

Vikki Katz, who was advised by Ball-Rokeach from 2002 until 2007 and worked with Ball-Rokeach as a postdoctoral research associate for the following two years, said that her mentor's particular strength is that her passion for equality underlies all her professional efforts.

"As a result, her research pursuits and mentorship are reciprocal and mutually influenced by each other," said Katz, /images/faculty/chas.jpgnow an assistant professor at Rutgers University. "She encourages an intellectual diversity within her students by continuing to learn from them. She often says that her new research directions are guided by the ideas and interests of her students. Her excitement and dedication to the process of academic inquiry and her willingness to work alongside her students distinguish her as a mentor. Her unselfish and prompt edits to her students’ work are also mentioned by many of her students."

Mellon Award for faculty mentoring undergraduate students:

• Warren Bennis, Marshall School of Business
Serena Cha, Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
• Kelvin Davies, USC Davis School of Gerontology
• David Johnson, School of Cinematic Arts
• Jill McNitt-Gray, Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
• Alison Dundes Renteln, Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
• Veronica Terriquez, Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
• Francisco Valero-Cuevas, Viterbi School of Engineering and the Division of Biokinesiology & Physical Therapy

Mellon Award for faculty mentoring graduate students:

Sandra Ball-Rokeach, Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
Michael Cody, Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
Tom Goodnight, Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
• Ariela Gross, Gould School of Law
• Peter W. Laird, Keck School of Medicine
• Charles McKenna, Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
• Viet Nguyen, Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
• Richard Weinberg, School of Cinematic Arts
• Mark Young, Marshall School of Business

USC Mellon Awards for Excellence in Mentoring

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