Mark Hunter, Henry A. Gleason Collegiate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology is the 2013 recipient of the Rackham Master’s Mentoring Award.

Hunter was nominated “for his dedicated and highly successful work as the founding director of the Frontiers Master’s Program,” according to EEB Professor and Chair Deborah Goldberg.

Following are some quotes from current and graduated Frontiers students:

“In Mark, we can always find support and words of encouragement, especially in moments when we doubted ourselves or our capabilities. He is always there to listen and believe in us.” (current second year Frontiers student)

“He was one of the most supportive and encouraging advisors I have ever known.” (2012 Frontiers graduate, now first year Ph.D. student at University of California at Berkeley)

“He is, all at once, very intense and intelligent, but also understanding and compassionate. It is these qualities, all wrapped up perfectly into one person, that have given me the confidence to know that I am good enough; good enough not just for the program that I am in, but good enough for anything that I try to do. He has supported my every endeavor, with words of wisdom, personal connections, and recommendation letters, and I don't think that I could have asked for a better advocate for my success than him.” (current second year Frontiers student)

Goldberg continued, “Another way to look at Mark’s success as a mentor of master’s students is to look at the overall success of the students in the Frontiers program while he was director.”  Among the three cohorts (12 students) he’s overseen so far, 10 have completed the program with a master’s degree and two from the most recent cohort are still working on their degrees. Ten students are currently in Ph.D. programs, including at U-M EEB (four students), Harvard University, UC Berkeley, UCLA, Wayne State University, Michigan State University, and University of Minnesota.

“Finally, Mark’s stellar role running the Frontiers program in EEB led Rackham to use it as a model in developing a successful proposal to NSF’s bridges to the baccalaureate program to expand the model to several other STEM departments in LSA.

 “Mark has been a brilliant mentor to individual master's students, but even more important, he has influenced the very way we educate master's students both in EEB and across multiple departments through his work in the Rackham bridging programs,” said Goldberg.

"The award came as a complete surprise,” said Hunter. “Really, the credit belongs to Deborah (Goldberg), Beverly (Rathcke) and John (Vandermeer) who conceived the idea (of the Frontiers Master’s Program) in the first place, and to Abby Stewart and Janet Weis who were so supportive as the program developed. Add to that the wonderfully talented cohorts of Frontiers students and the support of U-M Biological Station for our summer program, and I was just lucky to be involved."

The Rackham Graduate School has developed a number of initiatives and programs designed to improve the resources available to faculty mentors and their students, and really encourage a culture of mentorship at U-M. One of the ways they recognize the importance of mentoring is with three annual faculty awards for outstanding mentorship, this is one of those awards.