Congratulations to Kay Holekamp for being the inaugural recipient of the MSU Graduate School Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award!
See the entire letter to Kay from Judith Stoddart, Interim Dean and Associate Provost for Graduate Education, below highlighting the admirable qualities that won Kay the award.
The selection committee (which included a college associate dean, a graduate program director, associate and assistant deans from the Graduate School, and a graduate student) was impressed by the nominating letter written by 5 of your doctoral students and a recent PhD detailing the professional and personal impact you have had on their lives. They talked about the ways that you sustain a supportive and collaborative atmosphere within your lab from the time prospective students e-mail you through their post-graduate work, about your “thoughtful and exhaustive feedback” on professional and personal topics, and about how you have made connections that have enabled them to be joint authors with scientists at other institutions. They remarked on the ways that you model mentoring for them and then encourage them to practice it by including undergraduates in all stages of their research. They also indicated that your mentorship extends beyond the academic community, including, e.g., children’s book authors who visited your field site in Kenya last year.
Your chair noted the fact that you mentor not only your own students, but those of others. You have done this informally as well as in formal roles such as graduate director of ZOL/IBIO and EEBB. You also developed and continue to offer the Integrative Biology graduate student professional development course.
Your chair describes your attitude toward students as “incredibly generous.” Your students were even more emphatic, writing “While the marks of a superb scientist are quickly identifiable on their CV, the marks of a superb mentor are far less obvious. Here, Kay’s distinguishing habits include a respect for all persons and never-ending willingness to help. Such actions are not only time-consuming, but they are also selfless . . . . Kay engages in such mentorship activities—both in the traditional sense within academia as well as in non-academic settings–routinely and without a second thought.”
In honor of your receipt of the award, the Graduate School will provide you with $3000 to support mentoring activities. Please be in touch with me about the kinds of activities you would like to support. We can provide funding in this budget year, defer all of it, or split the amount. You will also receive an engraved plaque in honor of the award.