Wins Institute on Teaching and Mentoring Award
Ewing Browne (fourth from right) poses with graduate students
she has mentored at the Institute on Teaching and Mentoring's
eighth annual meeting in Atlanta in October. She holds an
engraved plaque she received after being named Faculty Mentor
of the Year.
Sheila Ewing Browne can't find time to post a Web page about herself,
but she makes time for a Web page with links to Finding Internships,
Information on Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering,
and Sistahs in Scienceall links of interest to students,
especially students of color, who are pursuing careers in the
sciences. Putting students first makes sense for Browne, who has
spent much of her twenty-five years at Mount Holyoke mentoring
students in independent research projects. Browne was honored
for this extraordinary commitment to students all over New England
in 1998, when she received the Presidential Award for Excellence
in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring. The award,
administered for the White House by the National Science Foundation,
identifies outstanding mentoring efforts and programs designed
to enhance the participation of groups underrepresented in science,
mathematics, and engineering. In October 2001 Browne was recognized
once again, this time with the Faculty Mentor of the Year Award
from the Institute on Teaching and Mentoring.
The Institute on Teaching
and Mentoring is part of the national Compact for Faculty Diversity,
formed in 1994 by the New England Board of Higher Education, the
Southern Regional Educational Board, and the Western Interstate
Commission for Higher Education to increase the number of students
of color earning doctoral degrees and entering faculty careers
at colleges and universities. By offering mentoring, professional
development, training in teaching practices, support for career
preparation and placement, and access to a national network of
minority doctoral scholars and faculty mentors, the compact has
served more than 525 scholars and produced more than 175 graduates.
With nine years of mentoring students of color at institutions
across the Northeast, Sheila Ewing Browne has been a big part
of that success.
"Sheila has seen
it all," said JoAnn Moody, former vice president of the New
England Board of Higher Education. "She is an irreplaceable
mentor-at-large for various U.S. minority graduate students I
work with. The toughest times that my students faceusually
impasses with their faculty research supervisorscall out
for Sheila's advice. She has always been candid and helpful to
me and my students as we brainstorm about how to resolve or shrink
these impasses. Her attitude is that we will find a way and that
the student will successfully move beyond this obstacle. . . .
I also have had several opportunities to talk with Mount Holyoke
alumnae from minority and majority backgrounds who have worked
with Sheila while they were in college. To a person, they regard
her as an magnificently enabling and empowering teacher and mentor."
Maronda V. Brown '91
sought Browne's guidance five years after graduation, during a
"far less than favorable" graduate experience when she
was questioning her future in the sciences. She wrote, "During
a very difficult time in my life, Sheila shared her challenges
in academe, helped me gain perspective, and reinforced all of
the positive reasons I chose a career in science. With her guidance,
encouragement, and support I managed to continue in science, and
excel." Brown is now a research scientist at Amersham Biosciences
and teaches biology at Middlesex County College in New Jersey.
She repays her mentor by assisting young women at crossroads in
their academic careers. "To this day, this is how I continually
thank Sheila, because I realize the depth and impact of her actions
in my life. Not only is she a mentor, she is a friend."
Browne received her
mentoring award at the institute's eighth annual meeting in Atlanta,
where she delivered the talk "Becoming a Champion for Diversity"
to a faculty audience and "Finding the Faculty Position for
You" to a student audience. She was shocked to receive the
award. "I knew the past winners, all of whom were really
outstanding," she said modestly. "I was so honored to
be nominated by students and to be recognized along with those
who earned their Ph.D.'s this year," she said.
Browne was the first
member of her family to graduate from high school. She earned
her bachelor of science degree from the University of Tennessee
and completed her doctorate at the University of California at
Berkeley, where she was one of only two women and the only person
of Native American heritage in her entering Ph.D. class of 140.