Drs. Essam Radwan and Marshall Schminke received the Award of Faculty Excellence in Mentoring Doctoral Students from the University of Central Florida on Thursday, April 9, at the Student Research Week Awards Breakfast.

Presented by the College of Graduate Studies, the Award for Faculty Excellence in Mentoring Doctoral Students honors those faculty members who have shown exceptional dedication in guiding doctoral students through their academic and professional development. Faculty members are nominated for this award by individuals who graduated from UCF in 2008 with a doctoral degree or by any UCF graduate faculty.

With more than two dozen faculty nominated; the awards committee comprised of Associate Deans from the UCF colleges bestowed the honor on Dr. Essam Radwan, a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He has directed and co-directed close to 55 research projects totaling over $11 million in extramural funding that has led to the graduation of 14 doctoral students and 26 master’s degree students. Dr. Radwan is currently supervising four more doctoral and five more master’s students, and he stated that “I truly believe that the most significant factor contributing to my success is the graduate students that I have supervised and closely worked with.”

Dr. Radwan’s nominator, a former student, said that Dr. Radwan’s “elegant personality, strong spirit, and kind behavior deeply affects the development of his graduate students”. Over the years, he has developed several key strategies for mentoring students. These strategies include dedicating time to meet weekly with each student to discuss his or her progress, encouraging the interaction of his students to generate new and innovative ideas, and promoting their professional development in teaching, writing grant proposals, presenting research, and publishing papers.

Honoree Dr. Marshall Schminke is a professor in the Department of Management in the College of Business Administration. A former student, his nominator, calls Dr. Schminke the glue that cements the business doctoral program together, saying, “Students recognize that he is a gifted mentor. Dr. Schminke has the ability to recognize each student’s unique talent and provide the guidance and support that shapes those talents in the most positive and productive way, helping them find their way through the doctoral program and then to flourish within the profession.”

Dr. Schminke says that his goal is to put each student in a position where they will thrive and therefore be happy. He noted that mentoring means giving the students a firm grounding in the profession. It is a lengthy, hands-on process that can only be learned by doing and it is an arduous task. But “when that (student’s) light bulb finally goes on—and it nearly always eventually does—there’s just no feeling like it”. “My philosophy as a mentor isn’t simply to help them be the kind of professional I am, it’s to help them be the kind of professional I still aspire to be,” he says.

Dr. Max Poole, senior associate dean of the College of Graduate Studies said, “Mentoring at the graduate level is a calling for some of our faculty who dedicate their lives to producing the next generation of scholars in their discipline. The quality of doctoral student mentoring is extremely important to the quality of our doctoral programs. This is the reason why we honor these two outstanding faculty members with this award.”