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Washington State University Faculty Mentors

Phyllis Eide Receives Mentor Academy Award for Excellence

By Cheryl Reed

The WSU Graduate School has awarded Associate Professor Phyllis Eide the 2017 Graduate School Mentor Academy Award for Excellence for her work in mentoring graduate students. Eide has been a faculty member in the College of Nursing on the WSU Spokane campus since 2002, and a member of the Graduate School Mentor Academy since 2009.

“When I found out I had won the award, I just about fell off my chair,” said Eide. “I am gratified beyond belief. It is one of the highlights of my year.”

The Graduate Mentor Academy is a group of faculty who have volunteered to assist students during the most challenging aspects of their program, including preliminary examinations and defenses. The Graduate School established the Graduate Mentor Academy to provide students an unbiased and supportive presence during exams and defenses—someone to ensure that university policies and procedures are followed and correct protocol is observed. For example, Mentor Academy faculty will collect ballots, make sure that no committee member leaves during a defense, and assist in creating a comfortable test environment for the student.

“Logistically, taking exams and defending can be very difficult for students,” says Bill Andrefsky, dean of the Graduate School. “People in the Graduate School programs department rely on faculty mentors to step up and serve students as advocates, either upon the student’s request, or for a student’s second exam attempt. Dr. Eide is one faculty who has always willingly served graduate students over the years—which is why I established this award last year. Faculty need to be recognized for their service.”

Faculty members volunteer for the Graduate Mentor Academy upon invitation from the Graduate School, and serve for a three-year term—although their term is often renewed.

“Dr. Eide mentored nine different students on two different test retakes this year,” says Mary Stormo, academic coordinator in the Graduate School. “She also met with committees and assisted in negotiating the swirling waters around students who were taking their exams for the second time. She helped work out the exam kinks with the department to ensure that fair testing was in place.”

Eide says that her presence at exams and defenses usually has a calming effect on the student, but that is not her only purpose. She also takes care of other more concrete tasks of the exam and defense process to make sure the process is comfortable and as stress-free as possible.

“I always arrive early to coordinate with the chair,” she says. “At the last event, I contacted the IT Department to make sure that all the technology was working correctly to prepare for electronic testing.”

In spite of the time commitment, Eide says that serving the students has been an honor.

Eide is an associate professor in the WSU College of Nursing in Spokane. She has been certified by American Nurses’ Credentialing Center in advanced practice nursing as a clinical nurse specialist in community health since 1992 and holds a certificate in Decision Making for Climate Change from the University of Washington (2010). Before entering academia in 1992 at University of Hawaii/Hilo, she worked in a wide variety of community settings, including positions in public health, migrant school nurse, Associate Director of Hawaii Nurses’ Association, and vocational rehabilitation. Her primary practice and research interests are rural health, global climate change, and public health.

“It takes a village for this kind of work,” says Eide, who plans to use the Graduate Mentor Academy award to fund her new research on climate change.

Eide will receive her award at the Graduate School Evening of Excellence event on April 13. This is the second year that the Graduate School has awarded the Graduate School Mentor Academy Award for Excellence. In 2016, Lisa McIntyre of the Department of Sociology won the first annual award.

For more information about the Graduate School’s mentor policy and the role of Graduate Mentor Academy members, visit HERE.

Amir and Jet: Finding a Pet-friendly Campus

By Cheryl Reed

Amir Gilmore is a first-year doctoral candidate in cultural studies at WSU. He received his bachelor’s degree in history and black studies in education and a master’s degree in arts and black studies from SUNY. When Amir decided to pursue a doctoral degree, he found the Washington State University Cultural Studies program online and the name of faculty member Paula Price. He saw that her interests were similar to his and thought she may be someone he could work with.

“So I emailed her and we set up a time for a phone call,” said Amir. “We had an hour-long conversation. She sold me on WSU Pullman. For me, to have a one-hour conversation with someone who didn’t even know me really wowed me.”

Paula Groves Price, Associate Dean for Diversity in International Programs in the College of Education, shared information about the program in cultural studies with Amir–and also that Pullman was a nice town for a family or a dog—something important to Amir, who owned a Jack Russell Terrier named Jet. Jet was confined and trapped in the city in New York, and it was important for Amir that the campus be a good fit for his dog.

“Knowing that Pullman was dog-friendly is actually what settled my decision to attend,” said Amir. “I was really surprised when I arrived at Washington State University in Pullman – surprised that what I was told about the place was true. I love the open space and the feeling of community, and that I can take Jet off his leash and let him run. I also liked the feeling of school pride and the diversity of students.”

Amir says that the program in cultural studies is a good fit for him. He is interested in research about social justice and inequity and helping underrepresented youth find access to education. Although not certain of the direction his doctoral degree will take him, he’s open to ideas.

“I’ve thought of law school, politics, high school superintendent, and an author of books. I’ve always had a love of teaching and working with youth,” he said.

Find out about the Cultural Studies Program at