Earlier this year, WVU created the inaugural Outstanding Graduate Research Mentoring Award to honor and encourage the considerable efforts and accomplishments of faculty who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to the mentorship of graduate students. Sponsored by the Office of Graduate Education and Life and the WVU Research Office, the new award recognizes four finalists.
Sam Zizzi, Pat Fehl Endowed Professor, Sport and Exercise Psychology, was a finalist for the WVU 2019 Outstanding Graduate Research Mentoring Award. Here’s part of what he shared with the nominating committee:
“The opportunity to serve as a mentor to our graduate students in the Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology program is the single best part of my job. I love building a relationship with each student and the challenge of pushing them to excel in their research efforts. I put effort into individualizing my approach to match each student’s specific personality.
We are gifted these world-class students (our PhD program admission rate is < 5%) for the last years of their training, and we get an opportunity to impact the trajectory of their careers into academia or applied work.
My primary approach to graduate mentoring is rooted in mindfulness. I don’t take the same approach with each student in terms of structure or timing of meetings or the use of goals and accountability strategies. I find that being present and compassionate with them as they progress through graduate school tells me everything I need to know. The openness and acceptance I try to cultivate in these meetings allows for the relationship to form and for creative thoughts to grow. Research studies are born, conceptual models are drawn, motivational mantras emerge.
Though I like to have fun and show it is possible to have a balanced academic life, it is also important that my graduate students are productive and finish their degrees in a timely fashion. I prioritize a finished manuscript that is good over an excellent manuscript that may not be submitted for six months. I helped develop the motto “Good + Done = Perfect.”