LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 6, 2013) — The University of Kentucky's David P. Moecher and George L. Scott Jr. were honored as the recipients of the 19th annual Ken Freedman Outstanding Advisor Awards. The award recognizes outstanding service in the field of academic advising. Two awards are presented each year, one to a full-time professional adviser and another to a faculty adviser.
George Scott serves as the college services coordinator for the Robinson Scholars Program, a program that provides support services and scholarship resources for selected students from Eastern Kentucky. A native of Morgan County and a class four Robinson Scholar himself, Scott reunited with the program as a professional in April 2011.
He said that his experiences as a Robinson Scholar allow him to better relate with the students he advises.
"I recognize what it is like coming from the region to Lexington to attend college; it can be very difficult," Scott said. "In the two years I have been in this program as the college services coordinator, I feel I have created a community where the students feel comfortable to come to me at any time, hang out in the Two One Seven office, and become very invested in their program."
Scott said that he set his sights on the Ken Freedman award five years ago, when he attended the annual awards luncheon; however he had no idea that he would be recognized so soon.
"To be in a pool with wonderful advisers such as Casey Shadix, Marianne Young or Louise Gladstone, it is truly an honor," Scott said. "I was so happy to share the award with my peers, especially in Robinson. My mother attended the luncheon. It is hard for her to get out and go places, but I asked her when I found out if she would go. It was important for me to acknowledge her as a source of inspiration and the main reason I attended college in the first place. I did, and it was an awesome moment."
Robinson Scholars Program Director Jeff Spradling said that Scott's dedication to his students is a big factor in the program's success.
"George is part adviser, part big brother and part good Samaritan to our Robinson Scholars," Spradling said. "He understands that helping students succeed means teaching them about dedication to academic excellence. Sometimes, though, our students need a person who can help them with things beyond the classroom, such as finding a doctor when they are sick or an apartment in Lexington, and George fills those roles, too. He gives his time unselfishly, both professionally and personally."
David Moecher, faculty adviser and chair of the College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, said that he was stunned, then humbled to receive the award, knowing that there are so many dedicated professional and faculty advisers who do not get recognized in this way.
"Advising, especially between an undergraduate major and a faculty member in their program, establishes and then cements a permanent personal and professional relationship that lasts the rest of your life," Moecher said.
Moecher attended a major Midwestern university, where he said there was not a great deal of personal interaction between undergraduate students and faculty; he benefitted more from his relationships with professors and advisers in graduate school.
"My dissertation adviser (the late professor Eric Essene from the University of Michigan) in particular was very influential in my intellectual maturation, and I think of him all the time," Moecher said. "I regularly find myself thinking 'what would Eric do in this situation?' So I hope that my efforts in helping and guiding undergraduate and graduate students will be remembered too."
Moecher said that his field also contributes to how he measures the importance of advising.
"In geology programs around the country, there is a really strong alumni relations base," Moecher said. "Most of the alums who I talk to always have a story about a faculty member or an adviser they had, who spent some time with them and clearly made a difference in their lives, so I think that is going to be our legacy as teachers and advisers; it's how we impact the next generation of alumni."
The awards are named in honor of Ken Freedman, who served as a professional adviser at UK for 15 years prior to his death in 2001.
"We are pleased to be able to sponsor the Ken Freedman Outstanding Advisor Awards,” Benjamin C. Withers, interim associate provost for Undergraduate Education, said. "This should be Undergraduate Education’s role, to help the university remember outstanding contributions from people like Ken Freedman and to help the campus recognize when those qualities live on in current faculty and staff.”
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