Longtime communication professor Peter Monge has been named USC’s top mentor of 2015 by USC Provost Michael Quick. He is the second USC Annenberg professor to earn this distinction in recent years, joining Sandra Ball-Rokeach, who won the award in 2013.
Monge estimates that he’s mentored roughly 30 students in his 30-plus year tenure at USC Annenberg, and is extremely proud of the fact that more than half of them — 17 to be exact — wrote letters on his behalf. True to his character, though, he credits them with his success.
“This award honors the many students I’ve worked with over the years,” Monge said. “It recognizes the quality of the effort we’ve put into the students but also the wonderful success they have had in their careers, because this award is really more about them than about us.”
Monge was recognized at the 2015 Academic Honors Convocation before USC’s president, provost, board of trustees, colleagues and a number of those students.
“He provides advice and encouragement, and the right amount of push to develop budding ideas into interesting works,” added Kristen Guth, a third year Ph.D. student in organizational communication. “Peter is a consummate scholar who provides feedback and support to students as colleagues in an ongoing intellectual conversation about ideas. His enthusiasm for research and theoretical development has shaped my academic outlook and no doubt contributes to the productive atmosphere at Annenberg.”
Interest in productivity and academic theory is one thing, but Monge is also lauded by his students as being someone who is genuinely interested in their pursuits beyond academia.
“Professor Monge is unmatched in his dedication to mentorship and the academic community more broadly,” said Leila Bighash, a third year Ph.D. student in communication. “He cares about all of the doctoral students, and you can see that in his interactions every day.”
The vested interest he takes in his students (and, even students who aren’t his own) is what sets Monge apart. In addition to teaching at USC Annenberg, he frequently serves on doctoral committees and works on research projects with the USC Marshall School of Business, which has resulted in a number of business students coming to USC Annenberg to take his classes.
However, it was Dean Ernest J. Wilson III who nominated him for the Provost’s award, though Monge didn’t know it at the time. Once the nomination was in, the school solicited letters from former mentees and forwarded the package to the Provost’s office, which then assembled a committee to review submissions from all schools at USC before choosing him as the 2015 winner.
While this is his first Provost’s award, it is hardly his first distinction, as he received the Mellon Mentoring Award in 2014 and was recognized for a Career of Outstanding Contributions by the Academy of Management in 2012.
Despite all the accolades, Monge continues to approach his work with the same grace and humility he’s demonstrated since the beginning of his career, focusing on what he considers the best part of his job: interactions with his students.
“You give [mentees] advice on all kinds of things and continue being a significant part of their lives afterward,” Monge said. “Many of my best friends are former students.”