James Madison University

Dr. Dena Pastor Receives Award

PHOTO: Dr. Dena Pastor

Dr. Dena Pastor received the Provost Award for Excellence in Graduate Advising. This award is presented to a person who has made significant contributions and superlative achievement in the delivery of quality advising.  For the past 10 years, Dena has served as an advisor to masters students in the Psychological Sciences MA program and to PhD students in the Assessment & Measurement doctoral program.

A student nominating Dena for this award noted her relaxed, yet supportive advising style: "Dena’s style of collaboration and advising is pointed and thorough, but she refrains from stifling the independence of her advisees. That is, she provides directive feedback and guidance yet does not dominate or micromanage advisee professional endeavors or research projects. I think that it is sometimes difficult for advisors to strike this balance, yet when it is achieved it works to continually challenge and promote growth and independence within budding scholars or researchers.”

A former student added the following: “I feel fortunate to have had Dr. Pastor as an advisor because she provided support without pressure. I did not feel pushed to take any particular career path or opportunity. She understood me as a whole person, and thought about what would be best for me rather than what she’d prefer me to do. Dr. Pastor helped me to become who I am in an unbiased way. For Dr. Pastor, everything is about the success of her students.”  

A common theme across letters of support was the way in which Dena served as a role model to students. One student wrote: “She exemplifies conscientiousness, professionalism, excellent work ethic and still manages to maintain enviable work-life balance.” A former student added: “Another reason Dr. Pastor will have a lasting positive impact on me is because she was an excellent role-model. Over the years, I observed Dr. Pastor as a teacher, researcher, and faculty member, and I noticed that she consistently spoke honestly and humbly. Impressed by her professionalism and demeanor, I frequently refer to her example when I am trying to decide how to handle something. She never over-estimates herself, but at the same time, is not afraid of speaking up when something is wrong or inappropriate. I will benefit greatly from her example throughout my professional life.”