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The Family Friendly Faculty Award is awarded to a faculty or staff member that has provided exemplary support to an OSU student parent; furthering the students’ success at OSU and beyond.
Support may come in the form of mentoring and encouragement as well as accommodations made in and out of the classroom to remove barriers to success and elevate the campus awareness of students with children.
What a student parent had to say about Dr. John Becker-Blease:
"Professor Blease was the only professor I had during the course of my MBA program that proactively addressed student parent issues. He included student parent problems in his very short list of reasons a person would be allowed to miss class or monitor their cell phone in class. While this seems like a small thing, as a parent of a 5 year old who went to daycare for the first time this year, it was immensely relieving. I don’t have many professors who would openly consider childcare a valid reason to miss their lectures or let me check my messages during class. One of my pregnant classmates had her baby on the day of his final. Most professors would accommodate this emergency, granted, but he has allowed her to take her final on her schedule, given the difficult job of being a new mom, and not pushed her to take the final before she could concentrate on it.
The MBA is a rigorous program and consumes a lot of time. Most of us student parents have a hard time finding the right balance between school and parenthood and it is always a struggle to prioritize the right activities that will make our families happy and get us through the program. Working with professors that help that process with understanding and by making allowances for our split focus makes being a student parent just a little easier."
What a student parent had to say about Dr. Kate MacTavish:
I would like to nominate Dr. Katherine A. MacTavish, Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, for the 2011-2012 Family-Friendly Faculty Award. I have known Dr. MacTavish for four years in multiple roles. She serves as chair of my dissertation committee and is my primary advisor. Additionally, I have taken three graduate courses from her, worked under her on two studies, co-authored a report with her, written and presented three conference presentations and a poster under her guidance, as well as co-written multiple grant proposals with her. In all of our interactions she has been profoundly sensitive to my needs as both a student and a parent.
One of the things I noticed about Kate during our first meeting on the student recruitment weekend was the child’s size desk and chair in her office. The child’s desk was covered in art supplies and on her office walls hung a few pieces of children’s art near photos of her daughters held up by books crowded on shelves. That image has served as an analogy for my experience being a parent of three and pursuing a PhD full-time. The intersection of work and parenting may sometimes feel crowded and is perhaps a bit messy, but it is also beautiful. I know now that Kate has mastered the delicate balance of doing both well, but on that first day I had only hoped. During the past four years Kate has guided me toward making my own work-life balance a reality and her support in getting me there has been instrumental.
For student-parents, finances are always a concern and for some (like me) being funded can make or break the possibility of graduating. I know Kate “has my back” and makes sure that I have an assistantship every term. She also encourages and supports me applying for outside funding and has offered me work through her own research funds if I need help making ends meet. Student-parents tend to gravitate towards Kate as an advisor, so I have the luxury of seeing her work with other student-parents. This past summer another graduate student-parent was contracted to teach a class, but enrollment was low and the class was cancelled. For this student-parent the situation constituted a minor crisis since the person needed to earn income to meet her family’s basic needs over the summer. When Kate found out, she immediately gave her class up so that the student-parent could teach even though Kate’s family needed the money, too.
Being accommodating and flexible as a professor for student-parents is critical. We need different kinds of support in order to access the quality and breadth of learning opportunities available to all students. I was able to attend all her classes because she provided a welcoming environment for me to bring my children if I had to. I was able to meet with her regularly because she felt comfortable letting me use her office to nurse and change diapers when I did not have childcare. I was able to participate as a student researcher in a year and a half long ethnographic study in a rural part of the state because when we collected data and had to stay overnight, she never once hesitated at the possibility of my children needing to come along or meet me while I was there. Over four years she has rearranged her schedule countless times to meet my own family’s changing scheduling needs, sometimes we have had to meet late, over the phone or at her house. This past year I had my third child. She supported me redesigning my graduation clock to accommodate our family having precious time to nurture another baby into the world. My career opportunities have been exponentially enhanced because of her willingness to accommodate my unique needs as a student-parent.
Now as I begin to look for a job, she listens to my ideas about what I want not only for my professional trajectory, but also for what I consider important for my family. All along, she has been helping me strategize my career choices by guiding me to select research, coursework, and teaching that are a good fit with my strengths, experience and available time. She has helped me become a good writer despite the high demands on my time by my family that often threatened to interfere with a finished product. She just keeps moving forward with me on multiple iterations of papers and presentations and offering me in-depth and thoughtful feedback. Without her patience and drive, my writing would not have been able to rise to the level of excellence I have achieved.
Most importantly, Kate has been a role model for how to gracefully balance being successful at work, family and having a personal life. I watch and listen as she picks up the phone when her daughters call. She always makes time for her children. For example, if she is not in her office writing, meeting with students or prepping for teaching, you will likely find her someplace like at her youngest daughter’s Girls on the Run Practice or leading a Brownie Troop meeting. Meanwhile, she always finds time for her students. For me that has meant innumerable meetings to discuss the framework of a paper, write letter of recommendation, or help me strategize time management for an upcoming deadline. She shows she cares by being there when she is needed, as a mother and as a professor. She also demonstrates the importance of making time for yourself to recharge. She loves to run and she carves out time for training and racing because it is valuable to her and like everything else, she is good at it. Being a student-parent means I have to be “on” all of the time, without a successful role-model for how to do so, I would not be thriving in multiple life domains.
I think Kate is the best professor for this award because not only does she support student-parents, but she lives the work-life balance philosophy and should be recognized as a role-model for other faculty about how to do so. If you have any questions or need further evidence to help make your decision, please feel free to contact me.
Originally designed for one recipient, we received such an overwhelming volume of nominations for faculty and staff from the Department of Geosciences that the Student/Parent Advisory Board chose this year to award it to the entire department.
What student parents had to say about Geosciences:
It is my pleasure to nominate Dr. Anne Nolin (Geosciences) as a faculty member who goes the extra distance to help students with families. I have worked Dr. Nolin over the past four years while she has served as my dissertation adviser. During this time I have played an active part in raising two daughters in addition to working ¾ time. The success that I have had in my doctoral studies would not have been possible without the understanding nature of Dr. Nolin. She provides an environment where I am able to work at odd hours to accommodate my schedule. Prior to the birth of my second daughter, Dr. Nolin initiated conversation about me taking off the time that my wife and I needed to get through initial demands of a newborn. When either of my daughters has been sick, Dr. Nolin has been fully supportive of me taking the time that I need to tend to my family.
But please do not mistake Dr. Nolin as an adviser who holds parents to a different standard. She has very high expectations of my dissertation research and me. My success as a graduate student is because Dr. Nolin has provided an environment for me to succeed as a parent and husband.
I would like to nominate Professor Roy Haggerty from the Department of Geosciences. In addition to the fact that Roy is my advisor, he also supervising more than half a dozen of students and number of us are married with kids. Although research demands lots of our time and his times, Roy remains supportive of us, our families, and his. He is not only brilliant researcher, Roy is also understanding and already gathered enormous knowledge of other cultures to make him the “father” of us all.
I would like to nominate the Geosciences Office Staff: Melinda Jensen, Stacey Schulte, and Renee Freeman. All three of them are extremely helpful, passionate, and family loving. they are friendly to students and their families.
I'd like to nominate Dr. Aaron Wolf, Professor of Geography and Chair of the Geosciences department for the Family Friendly Faculty Award. Aaron sets the tone that makes Geosciences a family-friendly department. From the day students first arrive at OSU, Aaron encourages them to take time away from schoolwork to enjoy life and spend time with their families. He makes a personal commitment to balance his family life with work, and he creates an environment that encourages faculty and staff to do the same, and to support one another's efforts. Furthermore, Aaron's understanding of the importance of family and the student as a whole person allows him to better respond to the needs of students with families. He is warm and welcoming to the families of students, and he promotes department-wide events that encourage faculty, staff, and students to bring along spouses and children.
Most recently, we held the Geosciences Spring Picnic, which doubled as a merger party, since Geosciences and COAS will be merging this year. It was an extremely family-friendly event, with students, faculty, staff, plus spouses and children all eating together, playing volleyball and softball, and enjoying the day. Events like these make the Geosciences department feel like home- like a big family. Even students who do not have family nearby feel like they are part of the Geosciences family. All this stems from the purposefully family-oriented leadership of Dr. Aaron Wolf.
Support from faculty and staff is integral to the success of students with children, and it’s departments such as this, serving as a model that will change the culture and climate for all families on our campus.
She has been an amazing professor to me this spring term. She was supportive, understanding, and accommodating of my special circumstances as a student parent (a very pregnant one at that, I was due at the end of spring term with my second child). She had helpful suggestions and resources that were available to me as a parent that I hadn't heard of before. She was understanding when I had an emergency doctor's appointment for my three year old and had to miss a quiz. Professor Muir allowed me to take it the following day without penalty. Overall, Professor Muir was warm, caring, and encouraging. I feel so lucky that she was my professor especially during my last trimester of pregnancy.
One example of her kindness: Professor Muir was my instructor for BI 301 which took place in a lecture hall with steep steps down to the front of the room. During Friday quizzes, she would meet me half way up the steps so I wouldn't have to waddle my extremely pregnant self down to the front to turn in my quiz. This was such a thoughtful and helpful gesture! Please consider Professor Patricia Muir for this honor! She deserves acknowledgment for her support of student parents on campus.
Nominated by Kayli Peterson
I had a very difficult time last term juggling morning sickness, illnesses unrelated to pregnancy, illnesses my daughter had, and childcare catastrophes. I could very easily have had to withdraw from courses or lost financial aid during that time. I am greatful for the opportunity to share with others just how well I was treated. Dr. Patricia S Muir taught a course in Biology in which she made coursework relevant and easily accessible. A textbook was not required due to her thorough postings on blackboard, and there were no course reserves one had to find. She made herself available via email, and office hourse more frequently than any of my other professors ever have. When she gave outside activity assignments there were several options for days and times to participate in events as well as options to perform activities at home. When I could not find care for my daughter she allowed her in the class, even taking time to comment on how well behaved and artistic she was. I could not have been happier or more successful without her! She made several encouraging comments to a few of my classmates near the end of their pregnancies, leading me to believe she truly is one of the most family friendly faculty at OSU.
Nominated by Amy Decker
I’ve been under her wing for 5 years now first as an MS student and now I am a PhD student. I am also a full-time single mom with no other family in Corvallis which means I NEED a very supportive mentor. I started by MS when my son was 3 and I have about a year left on the PhD. She has never once complained or insisted that I be somewhere that I simply could not because of parental duties. If I have to leave in the middle of a meeting or miss a class or volunteer at his school she is supportive. She asks how he is doing, has attended his birthday parties (one was at the bounce house!), and frequently brings him ‘little presents’. The thing that I find most surprising, is Bev never had any kids of her own. I expect professors with children to understand. Still, Bev lets me put my son first.
As a student, she wants only success for me. She pushed me to publish my MS in a high profile journal and we were successful. We are currently submitting my first chapter (publication) of my PhD to another highly ranked journal. I have received several fellowships and continued financial support from her for my entire graduate education. I am very pleased with my student-mentor relationship as well as my parenting.
Nominated by Tara Hudiberg
I would like to nominate professor Megan McClelland in HDFS. She taught my Child Development class last term. The first day of class, I was surprised to find that a classmate brought her then 3 month-old baby. Professor McClelland very openly and frankly stated that she fully supported the mom bringing her baby to the class, including nursing the baby in class, and that the rest of the students should as well. After all, the class was child development, so we should be exposed to the real deal. Dr. McClelland supported the mom throughout the term, encouraging the student to use her office and toys that Dr. McClelland has for her own infant. I have never had another professor openly and fully support a mother bringing an infant to class, much less encourage other students to be tolerant as well. I was extremely impressed by Dr. McClelland.
Nominated by Monica Olvera
While taking her Medical Anthropolgy class during the winter 2010 term she allowed me to leave early to pick up my son from daycare so that I could bring him to a post-class meeting for a class project. This allowed me to avoid time conflicts with daycare pickup times and the meeting time. She also allowed other parents with older children to bring their children to class when they needed to. Furthermore, we had a class fundraiser in which she ensured a family friendly atmosphere which my son really enjoyed.
Dr. Cheyney is also clear on her view that people shouldn't have to pick between being parents or being students. She not only states this view in words, but also through her actions. She is a true asset to the OSU staff and a great resource for all students, especially those who are parents.
Nominated by Raquel Moore
Professor Bryan Tilt, Anthropology
He is amazing about sick kids, childcare issues, etc. that come up and affect class attendance. In fact, this term I suddenly learned my hours were being cut in half at work and my childcare bill was going up, and panicked, I emailed him that I might have to pull my daughter out of preschool. He responded that she would be more than welcome to join us in class.
Amy Bourne, Business
Usually when a class has a test you must take the test in that specific time slot that you are registered. One day I was lacking a babysitter and professor Bourne agreed to let me take the test in the other class time. I know this might not seem like a big deal to some students, but it relieved a lot of stress on my part!! It is difficult to juggle school and be a mom.
Nominated by Jill Innis
Shelley Dubkin-Lee, Education
Professor Dubkin-Lee taught us about our own learning and communication styles, as well as gave us insight into learning and development. She used several anectodes from her own parenting experience in class, and encouraged classroom discussions in which we learned a lot from others involved in the lives of youth. Groups were given class time to research their topics. When a family emergency resulted in loss of childcare my daughter was allowed to attend class twice! She was even allowed to teach the class a short art lesson! Shelley allowed me the opportunity to remain a succesful student, and helped me to be more at peace with the crazy term I was having.
Nominated by Amy Decker
Tracy Arras, Engineering
Nominated by Kai Lewars
Dr. Randy Moore, Fisheries and Wildlife
It was my first semester trying being a mom AND a student... I bit off more than I could chew and was taking too heavy of a course load. He let me take an incomplete which allowed me to get all assignments and tests done, and then turn in our final paper after the term ended. His 'at your own pace' course also made for an easier semester than if I'd have had items due weekly.
Nominated by Marci Shindel