Four on faculty receive Carpenter Advising Awards

Four Cornell faculty members have received Kendall S. Carpenter Memorial Advising Awards, which recognize sustained and distinguished contributions of professorial faculty and senior lecturers to undergraduate advising.

Lisa Nishii, vice provost for undergraduate education, presented the awards May 25.

“When you ask alumni to tell you about their most important experiences as a college student, you will often hear about that professor who really ‘saw’ them,” Nishii said. “I’ve come to see this award as one that recognizes those faculty who do an exceptional job of humanizing the undergraduate experience for our students.”

This year’s recipients:

  • Jean Hunter, associate professor of biological and environmental engineering (BEE), College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is described as “… an advocate for students when they need it and a diligent educator and deliverer of ‘tough love’ when necessary.” Her students describe her as always available and unwaveringly devoted to supporting them, even after they graduate. Said BEE professor and department chair John March: “Jean is our greatest advocate for student education and career advancement. … It is through this unending effort that Jean garners our students’ trust and devotion to the program. We would be lost without her.”
  • Todd Schmit, associate professor in the Dyson School of Applied Economics and management, SC Johnson College of Business and CALS, is guided in his interactions with advisees by three basic goals: to provide intellectual and personal leadership that supports, encourages and promotes personal and professional development; to place students’ timely completion of degree requirements among the highest priorities; and to provide a foundation for the students’ careers. Multiple students wrote that Schmit didn’t only provide advice and mentorship, but went above and beyond in helping them discover their academic passions while caring about them as individuals.
  • Jamie Vanucchi, assistant professor of landscape architecture, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, was described by department chair Timothy Baird as “one of our most admired faculty, and her passion and empathy for her students results in their seeking out her advice for personal issues as well as academic.” Wrote one of her advisees: “Not only does Jamie listen, but she actively works with her students to solve problems.” Wrote another: “Jamie excels in her ability to take my rambling thoughts and ask the right questions to help me make sense of my ideas in order to move forward in a clear, focused direction.”
  • Maren Vitousek, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology (EEB), College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, was described as “inspirational” by EEB professor and department chair Jeremy Searle, who cited many contributions in just five years at Cornell, including “intensive research experiences in her lab and the number of students she has advised through class interactions.” But Searle said Vitousek’s greatest contribution as an adviser has been helping students when they need help the most. She is also a strong supporter of student research, one colleague wrote, with Vitousek’s lab “having published seven undergraduate-authored, peer-reviewed papers under her supervision.”

Carpenter award recipients each receive $5,000 to support their research. The awards were established by Stephen Ashley ’62, MBA ’64, in honor of his adviser, Kendall S. Carpenter, a professor of business management at Cornell from 1954 until his death in 1967, at age 50.

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Gillian Smith