By: Diane Stirling
School of Information Studies (iSchool) Associate Professor Jennifer Stromer-Galley has been selected to receive an Excellence in Graduate Education Faculty Recognition Award, honors that will be presented at a university-wide dinner and celebration event Thursday evening.
The award honors faculty members whose dedication to graduate students and commitment to excellence in graduate teaching and mentoring “have made a significant contribution to graduate education at Syracuse University.” It is presented annually.
Stromer-Galley was nominated for the recognition by Matt Willis, a doctoral student at the School of Information Studies. Willis nominated Stromer-Galley , he said, because of the extraordinary efforts she makes to interact with and motivate doctoral students. In addition to the nomination by Willis, doctoral students Jerry Robinson, Feifei Zhang, Lauren Britton, Jasy Liew Suet, Patricia Vargas, and Sarika Sharma, along with iSchool Interim Dean Jeff Stanton, wrote letters for endorsement for the award nomination.
In proposing Dr. Stromer-Galley for the award, Willis wrote how, “Jenny extends mentorship and her wisdom of the graduate student experience not only to the students she advises, but to any student she talks with. You get the feeling that she genuinely cares for, and understands, graduate students. She is personable, wise beyond measure, organized, energetic, and talking with her is always motivating. Perhaps one of the most powerful abilities she has, and I think many other grad students can relate to this, is feeling focused and motivated after you talk with her. Without fail after a discussion with Jenny, I leave her office feeling better and having a plan to move forward; she’s that kind of advisor.”
Willis noted that he has received “invaluable training and advice from many of the faculty here about becoming a faculty member and being an exceptional scholar,” and that includes the advisement he has had from Stromer-Galley. "[She] has managed to become a role model for graduate student support and engagement while juggling her other responsibilities with grace. In addition to being a model faculty member and scholar, she emphasizes her role in graduate education, mentoring, and development. This is shown by the number of graduate students she is currently advising and by the enthusiasm, excitement, and passion that all of Professor Stromer-Gallery’s advisees have when working with her.”
Willis added how he has viewed the professor’s help and guidance as instrumental to the progress he has made on his dissertation. “I am impressed with how responsive she is. She always makes time for her students. It is this challenging and time-consuming work that makes grad students better, and why I knew she would be a great recipient for the award. It is a level of rigor that she provides to all students she works with,” Willis added.
Professor Stromer-Galley discussed her philosophy and approach to mentoring doctoral students as one that has grown from her own experiences and the challenges she faced during the time she was formulating her dissertation.
“The dissertation process is really strange. You know just enough to know that you don’t know very much, and you’re supposed to be situating yourself as an expert in some area, but it’s tough when you don't really feel you’re an expert yet. It’s a long process, and it takes a lot of conversation and a lot of time. So I try to spend a lot of time in those conversations with my students. I work really hard to be responsive and timely, and I give them a lot of feedback,” she said.
“I genuinely try to understand what their interests are and help them to find a way to narrow that interest into a research project or their dissertation. I’m not expecting them to do what I do as a researcher my objective is to nurture them and help them become top quality scholars, which is a long, slow, and sometimes painful process, as it was for me,” she added.