Pitt Education Professor Noreen Garman Receives Prestigious Beckman Award for Mentorship

Issue Date: 
November 19, 2012

The mentorship that Pitt faculty member Noreen Garman provided to a motivated student who went on to establish the first school for girls in Enoosaen, Kenya, has
led Garman to receive the prestigious Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award. The award recognizes university professors nationwide who have inspired former students to
“create an organization which has demonstrably conferred a benefit on the community at large.”

Garman, a Pitt professor of education, served as an advisor to Kakenya Ntaiya between 2006 and 2011. Garman offered guidance to Ntaiya as she wrote her PhD
dissertation about the education of women in the Maasai tribe in her native Kenya. Garman also supported Ntaiya as she raised funds to establish a primary school in her home village of Enoosaen, where girls previously had not been encouraged to pursue formal education. Ntaiya opened the Kakenya Center for Excellence school in 2009 and earned her PhD from Pitt’s School of Education in 2011.

“We’re incredibly proud of Kakenya Ntaiya, of course,” said Alan Lesgold, dean of Pitt’s School of Education. “But the Beckman Award to Professor Garman highlights what a great professor really does, which is to amplify the talent, courage, and dedication of great students. Just as importantly, it has happened in smaller ways with hundreds of other students over the course of her career.”

Garman accepted the award Nov. 10 during a ceremony hosted by the Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award Trust at the Carter Center in Atlanta. She was among 22 faculty members from universities nationwide who each received $25,000 as part of their awards. Garman plans to donate a portion of her prize money to the Kakenya Center for Excellence.

More than 120 girls have enrolled at the Kakenya Center for Excellence, where they study English, Swahili, math, science, the arts, and leadership skills. Ntaiya’s efforts and her success in empowering girls in her native land have been detailed in a BBC documentary and a series in The Washington Post, and she has been the recipient of numerous international awards.  

Garman has also been honored at Pitt for her mentoring skills, receiving the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring in 2007.

The Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award was founded in 2008 by Gail McKnight Beckman in honor of her mother. Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman was an educator, renowned author, and a pioneer in the field of psychology. She was one of the first female psychology professors at Columbia University and later taught at the University of Pennsylvania.