James Madison University

Dr. Sara Finney Presented Mentor Award

PHOTO: Sara Finney

On February 25th, Dr. Sara Finney, associate professor of Graduate Psychology, was presented with the Outstanding Mentor Award from the Conferences of Southern Graduate Schools (CSGS). This award acknowledges and honors one faculty member whose has enjoyed outstanding success in mentoring graduate students in the Southern Region. CSGS membership includes 164 universities spanning from Maryland, down to Florida, and over to Texas.

Sara was nominated for this award by a number of her former (graduated) and current advisees, in addition to nominations from several of her colleagues and The Dean of the Graduate School.

CSGS recognized Sara’s distinction as a mentor for several reasons. Sara has a reputation for facilitating student learning by making complex ideas understandable and meaningful to students.  She establishes and maintains high academic standards. She is a positive role model as a professional. Moreover, Sara provides consistent and ongoing guidance of students regarding resources within and outside the university and advocacy for completion of the program of study in a timely manner. Sara also has substantial influence on the academic and professional pursuits of her students that include published research, co-presentations at national conferences, and internships with various organizations in the field of testing and measurement.

The following summary of Sara’s influence on her students was presented during the awards ceremony at the CSGS annual meeting.

“Professor Sara Finney truly believes advising is much more than a process or an experience shared by herself and students. She believes that quality academic advising and active mentorship result in products that are manifestations of student achievement and growth due to the advising relationship. For example, she offers her advisees many opportunities to collaborate on her research, which subsequently results in scholarly presentations and publications. Since 2002, she has included students as co-presenters on 63 conference presentations of research and co-authored 23 peer-reviewed publications with students. Due to the quality of her mentorship, much of this body of work lists her advisees as first author. Graduate student mentoring is labor—and time—intensive. Conducting and publishing research with students, especially when they want to take on a leadership role, can take much longer and be more labor intensive than conducting the research independently. Nevertheless, providing her advisees with this research experience has resulted in her advisees winning the Best Graduate Student Paper Award for the past four years at one of her field’s conferences.”