News SREB News Release

Dr. Stephanie Danette Preston, interim associate dean for graduate student affairs and assistant dean for graduate educational equity at Pennsylvania State University, was presented one of two national Faculty Mentor of the Year Awards on Oct. 28 at the nation’s largest gathering of underrepresented minority Ph.D. students and faculty.

Dr. Preston was honored at the 24th annual Institute for Teaching and Mentoring, which convened nearly 1,000 Ph.D. students, recent graduates and faculty members in Atlanta.

She was nominated for the award by Penn State former mentee and graduate student Dr. Melanie R. McReynolds, who wrote that Dr. Preston “defines and illuminates the word mentor.”

“I would not be here at this conference,” nor a scholar at all without her mentor’s support, said Dr. McReynolds, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation scholar, said during the awards ceremony. She added that her preparation at Penn State under Dr. Preston’s mentorship led her to a postdoctoral position at Princeton University. “God placed me at Penn State at a strategic time to be molded and mentored by Stephanie,” Dr. McReynolds said.

“Be better than your yester-self and everything will be OK,” Dr. Preston told the Institute audience.

The SREB-State Doctoral Scholars Program leads the Institute each year in conjunction with members of the Compact for Faculty Diversity. These programs provide support for underrepresented minority Ph.D. students to increase faculty diversity across the South and U.S.

“Ph.D. students of color still can be the first such person in their respective graduate programs. These Mentors of the Year provide crucial support for these students, so they can finish their doctorates and become faculty members and excellent mentors themselves,” said Dr. Ansley Abraham, the director of the Southern Regional Education Board’s Doctoral Scholars Program.

SREB is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization based in Atlanta that works with 16 member states to improve education from pre-K through Ph.D.