Four Faculty Receive Provost’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring

Issue Date: 
April 28, 2013


Above: Pitt Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Patricia E. Beeson honored four faculty with the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring during an April 11 awards ceremony in the William Pitt Union. Pictured, from left, are Provost Beeson; winners Alan Juffs, professor of linguistics and director of Pitt’s English Language Institute; Alan Wells, the Thomas J Gill III Professor of Pathology, Pitt School of Medicine; Angus W. Thomson, Distinguished Professor of Surgery, School of Medicine; and Alberta M. Sbragia, vice provost for graduate studies and professor of political science; and Carey Balaban, vice provost for faculty affairs and professor of otolaryngology in the School of Medicine, who chaired the committee that recommended the winners to the provost. (Photo by George Mendel)

Four faculty members who have provided outstanding mentorship to their doctoral students have received the 2013 Provost’s Award for Mentoring. The award, which carries with it a $2,500 cash prize, honors professors who have nurtured the personal and professional development of students and provided a foundation for students’ careers long after their degrees have been granted. This is the eighth year of the award. 

“The individuals recognized by this award have given their time, energy, and wisdom to help shape the next generation of researchers and scholars,” said Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Patricia E. Beeson. “In so doing, they have not only helped shape the intellectual and personal lives of the members of this generation, but also inspired them to continue advancing in the pursuit of knowledge.”

The 2013 recipients of the Provost’s Award for Mentoring follow. 

Professor of Linguistics Alan Juffs has served on dissertation committees for students both inside and outside the discipline of linguistics. He directs Pitt’s English Language Institute and is a coeditor of the Pitt Series in English as a Second Language at the University of Michigan Press. He has served as chair of Pitt’s linguistics department in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. Juffs has been highly successful in placing his students, some of whom are now professors at such institutions as Michigan State University, North Carolina State University, and the University of Vermont.

Alberta M. Sbragia, vice provost for graduate studies and professor of political science, has been recognized internationally for her strengths as a teacher and mentor through such awards as the Jean Monnet Chair ad personam, granted in 2005 in recognition of her teaching and research related to the European Union, and recognized by the University through her 2006 appointment as the inaugural Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg University Professor. Sbragia’s former students have become tenured professors at such leading research institutions as Hofstra University, the University of California, Davis, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Angus W. Thomson received national recognition for mentoring in 2011 as the recipient of the American Society of Transplantation Mentoring Award. He is Distinguished Professor of Surgery and professor of immunology, microbiology and molecular genetics, and of clinical and translational science in Pitt’s School of Medicine. He directs transplant immunology in Pitt’s Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute and transplantation research in Pitt’s Institute of Molecular Medicine. Thomson’s former students have assumed leadership positions in academia, and recent students are advancing their careers with positions at such institutions as Harvard Medical School, the Mayo Clinic, and MIT.

Alan Wells serves on thesis committees for Pitt students in addition to students attending other institutions in India, Germany, Australia, and throughout the United States. Wells is the Thomas J Gill III Professor of Pathology, vice chair of the Department of Pathology, and professor of computational and systems biology in Pitt’s School of Medicine. He also is a bioengineering professor in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. Wells’ former students have gone on to successful careers in academia at Pitt and the University of Rochester, as well as in clinical and industry-related fields.