As a long-time athletic coach and guide, and for the past twenty-five years a college and university student and professor, teaching and mentoring have been a part of my life for close to forty years.
At the biennial conference of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment in 2013 I received the first ASLE Excellence in Mentoring Award. This award recognized my twelve years of service as the Program Director of the Mentoring Program for ASLE. As our association has grown to become a diverse international community I have worked tirelessly to develop international mentoring opportunities for students from around the world, including England, France, Germany, Austria, England, Korea, China, Japan, Ghana, Kenya, Turkey, Sri Lanka, India, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Canada, and Argentina.
The Mentoring Program, a cornerstone of ASLE’s community-building efforts since the inception of our organization. In addition to expanding international mentoring, the Program has grown in significant ways under my leadership:
- During the biennial conferences, I organized one-on-one professional mentoring meetings with experienced faculty and department chairs. The one-hour meetings offered mentees an opportunity to ask specific questions about the ASLE community, preparing for the job market, working conditions at small and large institutions, the relationship between scholarship and teaching, and non-academic work options. I also work with the ASLE Graduate Student workgroup to arrange sessions at the biennial conference specifically designed for graduate students. For example, at the 2011 conference in Bloomington, Indiana, we put together a panel on entering the profession, “Building your Professional Identity: Funding, Publishing, and Conferencing,” and “Adapting to the Changing Academic Market,” a discussion of the academic careers for students interested in literature and environment; and at our 2015 conference this summer in Moscow, Idaho, I have collaborated to envision and design two workshops for graduate students
- I re-envisioned mentoring in the organization to support faculty at all stages of an academic career. At the 2011 ASLE Conference, I organized and co-facilitated (with John Tallmadge, Rochelle Johnson, Tom Hillard and Sarah Jaquette Ray) “Staying Alive: A Workshop for Academic Professionals” to offer practical advice and shared wisdom for living an emotionally, ethically, and spiritually healthy life in academia.
- This workshop for academic professionals grows out of the Staying Alive Project that I initiated with my collaborator, the independent scholar John Tallmadge, in the spring of 2006 with a workshop at the Biennial Conference of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment in Spartanburg, South Carolina in the summer of 2007, and in Victoria, British Columbia, in the summer of 2009. Our vision is to cultivate a life practice for academic people guided by the virtues of centeredness, wholeness, compassion, forgiveness, generosity, imagination and collaboration. To this end we write for and moderate the Staying Alive Blog. At the 2015 ASLE conference, I will be co-facilitating a workshop designed for senior faculty, dedicated to sharing experiences and wisdom about living an emotionally, ethically, and spiritually healthy life during the citizen and elder phases of a career. Our workshop begins in the idea that no matter which path we take through an academic career, we all experience some measure of success or failure, fulfillment or betrayal, along with the challenges and rewards of living a balanced life and maintaining authentic relationships.
My commitment to mentoring is also evident in my professional support for junior faculty. Every year I contribute as an outside reviewer for promotion and tenure cases and grant applications. For example, one year I contributed to my profession by
- reviewing the file and wrote a letter evaluating the scholarship of Patrick Barron, a candidate for associate professor in the department of English at the University of Massachusetts, Boston
- reviewing the file and wrote a letter evaluating the scholarship of Nicole Merola, candidate for associate professor at Rhode Island School of Design
- reviewing the file and wrote a letter evaluating the scholarship assistant professor of English and Director of Writing, Sean Meehan, a candidate for promotion and tenure at Washington College in Maryland
- reviewing the file and writing a letter evaluating the scholarship of Salma Monani, a candidate for associate professor and tenure in the department of Environmental Studies at Gettysburg College
- completing a letter of support recommending a junior colleague in India, Rayson Alex, for the 2012-13 Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship Program at the University of Pennsylvania
- reviewing the file and writing a letter of support for William Conlogue (professor of English at Marywood University who has applied for a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH)
- reviewing a letter of support for a Fulbright Grant to Dharamshala, India, for Arlene Plevin, a professor in the English department at Olympic College
- serving as a Senior Project and Thesis Committee Member for Brandon Willits, an undergraduate in the Department of English at Marlboro College