Benedict honored for continued service to students, faculty


BOWLING GREEN, O.-The Bowling Green State University Department of Economics is doubly fortunate to have Dr. Mary Ellen Benedict, Distinguished Teaching Professor of economics, as its chair. She is a valued mentor to students and faculty alike, and always gives freely of her time and considerable wisdom.

Benedict received dual recognition at the Faculty Awards Reception April 10. She was presented both the Faculty Senate Faculty Mentor Award and the President's Award for Academic Advising of Undergraduate Students by Faculty and Staff.

The Faculty Mentor Award rewards outstanding professional support of colleagues in the development of teaching, research and service initiatives. Benedict received a commemorative plaque, along with $1,000.

The undergraduate advising award recognizes individuals and units in the BGSU learning community that contribute to undergraduate students' educational development through effective academic advising. It includes $1,000 transferred to a departmental account to continue advising activities, and a $1,000 cash award to the recipient.

"Mentoring is a broad activity," observed Dr. John Hoag, associate dean in the College of Business Administration and former chair of the economics department. Hoag nominated Benedict for the faculty mentor award. "There are three major areas where Mary Ellen has had an impact," he said. "First and maybe foremost, she has been a mentor to women faculty . . . Second, she has mentored faculty in research, and finally, she has added to the climate of the department with her very strong interest in seeing that people are treated fairly."

Benedict came to BGSU in 1991 and was tenured in 1997. She has always worked to make sure that women faculty were treated equitably and has assisted new faculty members in developing productive research agendas as well as supporting them in the classroom, Hoag said. In particular, she has aided young female instructors, who often face issues not regularly encountered by tenure-track faculty and male instructors.

Her own research agenda is robust, and she has published prolifically, frequently co-authoring with younger faculty and thereby strengthening the research environment of the department. She has an unusual skill in helping young faculty clearly define their research questions, test their hypotheses and convey the results, Hoag said.

On the undergraduate level, the president's award for academic advising recognizes individuals and units in the BGSU learning community that contribute to undergraduate students' educational development through effective academic advising. Benedict advises BGSU students as well as recruits future students to economics.

"Academic advising plays a central role in the educational life of undergraduate students," President Mary Ellen Mazey said of Benedict's efforts and her plan to increase the number of undergraduates in the economics department.

Benedict particularly enjoys working one-on-one with students, and has especially reached out to female students, acting as a role model for them, Hoag said. The number of female students in the program has grown as a result of her efforts.

She is exceptional at drawing out a student's best work, and encourages students of both genders to take leadership roles. She was for a number of years the adviser to the Economics Club.

She is "attentive" and "patient" with students, Hoag said, adding that "students remark on what a powerful influence she is on them."

Benedict collaborates with other faculty members to explore the expansion of academic advising to include educational outreach to high school economic and business students. Susan Kosakowski, coordinator for undergraduate recruiting in the College of Business Administration at BGSU, has worked with her on several student-related issues. In her nomination letter, Kosakowski wrote that the award will "aid her (Benedict) in reaching farther and doing even more."

Several students that Benedict advised through their BGSU career credit her with helping undergraduate students, as well as finding success post-graduation. One of them is 2012 BGSU graduate Jay Nabors, who received a full tuition scholarship to law school. "Without the advising I received from Dr. Benedict and to a larger extent the economics department as a whole, I do not know if I would be as fortunate as I am today."

"In short, Dr. Benedict is an extraordinary mentor of both faculty and students," Hoag wrote. "The teaching environment, the research environment and the equity environment have all gained by her efforts. Our students' lives have also been positively impacted by her pushing them in both intellectual and leadership dimensions."

(Posted April 11, 2013 )