Five faculty members were chosen to be a part of the first cohort of UT’s new Distinguished Service Academy, according to a Feb. 4 press release from the College of Education.
The academy recognizes faculty members with excellence in mentoring and service, according to the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost. Members will be appointed for five years, and the appointment will include a $5,000 annual stipend, separate from their salary, according to the website for the Executive Vice President and Provost.
Members of the first cohort are associate dean for equity, community engagement and outreach Richard Reddick, pharmacy professor Carolyn Brown, biology associate professor Jennifer Moon, English professor Lisa Moore and Loriene Roy, a professor from the Center for Women and Gender Studies.
Members will sponsor at least one workshop on mentorship per semester and offer one-on-one mentoring sessions through the year, according to the website.
Reddick’s academic work has focused on the importance of mentorships. He said advising is one of the most important jobs of faculty members, and he is excited that it is receiving recognition.
“I’m happy to engage with folks who are curious or just don’t quite know why (mentoring) is important,” Reddick said. “I know for a lot of students who have marginalized identities, it’s a huge deal to find somebody who’s got similar experiences to yours.”
Reddick said much of his research has focused on mentors and students with different racial or gender identities, and he is looking forward to introducing these ideas to the board. Reddick said he has worked with others on board in the past for equity issues and is excited to hear about their styles and understanding of mentoring.
“I adore this group of people I’m connected with now,” Reddick said. “These are people I’ve admired for years. … I’m like, ‘Wow,’ just to be in the same sort of category as them is amazing.”
Reddick, who was an undergraduate student at UT, said mentors in his own life helped him through struggles, including earning a “D” during his second semester at UT.
“When I was (at UT) I was really lucky to have excellent mentors,” Reddick said. “All these people at UT, sort of in my life, helped me forge ahead.”
Reddick currently acts as an adviser for students in education, including education graduate students Jake Akin and Yvonne Taylor.
Akin said Reddick seems to know someone everywhere, and if there is an issue that Reddick can not help with, he knows someone who can.
“He’s this powerful figure on campus,” Akin said. “He’s working on all these issues of social justice and inclusion during research … but then at the same time, you’ll go to the welcome party for your department, and he’s there playing bass and singing backup for a little punk rock band.”
Taylor said despite being an associate dean, Reddick has remained accessible to students and was someone that supported her in her decision to return to school later in life.
“He’s both brilliant and accessible, and that’s not always common with faculty at his level,” Taylor said. “He’s passionate about students, and he’s passionate about higher education and its impact on the community in which it stays.”