One of the distinguishing features of a Butler education has always been the meaningful relationships between our students and faculty.
In addition to being outstanding scholars in their fields of expertise and well-versed in the leading practices in teaching and learning, Butler faculty care deeply about their students. As students engage in undergraduate research and servicelearning, they do so alongside faculty members who act notonly as teachers but as lifelong mentors. In fact, a demonstrated sense of commitment to students is Butler’s number one criteria when hiring new faculty members. Whether in the dance studio, the biology lab, or the classroom, Butler faculty share an abiding devotion to helping their students learn and thrive during their time at Butler and beyond.
The benefits of mentoring go both ways.
“A first-year teacher can benefit from a seasoned teacher’s knowledge, but a first-year teacher might also remind an experienced teacher of the spark and passion that brought them to the profession in the first place,” says Brooke Harris Garad, Assistant Professor in the College of Education.
Harris Garad met Melissa Ryan ’23, Elementary Education major who minored in both Diverse Learners and Special Education Mild Intervention, when she first joined the College. “I was her University supervisor, which is a really cool role that folks associated with the College of Education get to have, because I got to visit her teaching in a third-grade class and really think deeply and talk a lot about her teaching strategies and the way that theory sort of translates into practice.”
Ryan is grateful for the relationship with Harris Garad, especially as she helped Ryan “to navigate the constant sea of thoughts I had about teaching,” she shares. “She helped to open a space for me to dive into questions of equity in education and provide insights from her own expertise.”
“As a teacher, I’ve grown so much because of Dr. Harris Garad,” says Ryan. “She was so inspirational with all of her expertise and knowledge and advice and kindness. I constantly felt uplifted by her, and I felt like I was in an environment where I was supported and encouraged to really go out there and try new things.”
Serious about our art, and our community.
“Mentoring helps to sift through all of the different opportunities that are on a college campus while also maintaining a focus towards your goal, which is hopefully a degree in a specific subject,” says Derek Reid ’87, Professor of Dance in the Jordan College of the Arts.
Scholar Idjagboro, who graduated in 2022 as a Dance Performance major, remembers her audition day. “When I walked in I felt like I already had so much support; everyone welcomed me with open arms,” she says. “Having close relationships with your professors is one of the best things about Butler. If I needed to discuss anything they were always there.”
Reid adds, “We have a community here. It’s a small university, where the students know the professors and the professors know the students. In Jordan College, we are challenging the students to develop their artistry, and to develop specific techniques. But they can also just remove themselves into a studio or into a practice room and focus on their art, and that makes JCA a really unique place: where you’ve got artists that are working to become better citizens.”
The connections are the best part of Butler.
“I think that universities can play an important role in student development,” shares Marleen McCormick Prichard, Associate Professor of Management in the Lacy School of Business. “They’re at this pivotal point of transitioning from high school to college and then from college to their career, and so we can really help them and mentor and provide an individualized approach to this. It helps students guide their way.”
For International Business graduate Lauryn Lintner ’23, “Dr. McCormick was there for me, wearing a million and one hats. She served as a professor, business coach, resume builder, confidant, support system, connection, friend, stand-in mom, mentor, role model, and so much more during my time at Butler.”
But, McCormick shares, the influence goes both ways. “[The students] encourage me to teach them practical tools they may use after graduation. I also incorporate reflective activities into my capstone course where students share how they became who they are today and who they wish to become.”
Lintner is grateful for the personal attention she received through her relationship with McCormick. “I was treated as an individual student with my dreams, goals, and aspirations. I was not pushed down a path that every student studying business should go down. Getting to see Dr. McCormick as a mentor taught me how I want to mentor, how I want to teach, how I want to interact with people.”
Kindness and care goes beyond the classroom.
“By far the most rewarding part of mentoring and working with students is to get to see the end game, to see them cross the finish line and accomplish their dreams,” says Mikaela Drake, Associate Professor of Health Sciences.
Drake recalls her first meeting with her new advisee, Alli Leonard ’24. “Our initial bond was over soccer. Alli’s a member of the women’s soccer program, and I too played soccer in college.”
Leonard, who has added Chemistry and Spanish minors to her Health Sciences major, agrees the bond over soccer was valuable. “Coming in as a collegiate athlete, it was nice to build a connection with an advisor who was an athlete in her college days, too. She knows what the student-athlete life entails.”
Drake adds, “Student well-being is at the forefront of everything we do. We build relationships not only inside the classroom but outside of the classroom.”