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Dussart Wins National Mentorship Award

Professor of Anthropology Francoise Dussart takes mentoring her graduate students seriously, saying that her relationship with each one is different. Photography by Christine Buckley

Professor of Anthropology Francoise Dussart takes mentoring her graduate students seriously, saying that her relationship with each one is different.
Photography by Christine Buckley

Professor of Anthropology Francoise Dussart has been awarded the Faculty Mentor of the Year award from the Institute on Teaching and Mentoring, a nonprofit educational organization funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Gates Foundation.

The Institute gives its national award to professors it determines best honor the “Compact for Faculty Diversity,” a partnership of regional, federal and foundation programs that focuses on minority graduate education and faculty diversity.

Dussart, who is also a core faculty member in the Center for Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, she studies social anthropology, including expressions of gender and the Australian Aboriginal society and culture.

“The award is meaningful because there are different ways to be a graduate adviser,” she says. “You have a particular relationship with every grad student and you have to make it work. Every relationship is different.”

One of Dussart’s current students, Rita Offiaeli, nominated her for the award. Offiaeli herself was recently awarded a grant from the Ruth Landes Memorial Fund to pursue her dissertation research, “When the Kolanut (Cola acuminata) Meets the Electric Slide: Constructing Transnationalism in New England.”

In her recommendation of Francoise for the award, Offiaeli said that Dussart is a mentor who sees the personal, academic and professional aspects of life as interwoven with each other.

“My experience is that when Professor Dussart mentors or discusses issues with me, she does not just see a graduate student but an individual who is female, older than most students, mother of four teenagers and at any one time is positioned in various ways on the landscape of life and graduate school,” she wrote in her recommendation. “And yes, Professor Dussart somehow manages to keep these different aspects of my life within focus while gently prodding me to take even those aspects I may sometimes overlook into account, not dissuasively but encouragingly, as I make plans for the future.”

Dussart said she was surprised and humbled to hear of her selection for the award.

“Getting the award made me pause and say, I’m doing things well, but how can I do things better?” she says. “Mentoring is not always rewarded, so it’s very energizing.”


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