Parish and Holcombe receive Heller faculty honors

Professors are praised for outstanding work inside the classroom and out

Susan Holcombe (left) and Susan L. Parish

Dean Lisa Lynch has awarded the Heller School for Social Policy and Management's 2011 honors for outstanding teaching and mentoring to Susan L. Parish, the Nancy Lurie Marks Professor of Disability Policy, and to Susan Holcombe, Professor of the Practice in the Sustainable International Development Programs.

 The teaching award was made to Parish for excellence in fostering excitement about learning, stimulating intellectual curiosity and challenging and inspiring students to become engaged citizens of the world.

Parish, the director of the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy, joined the faculty in the fall of 2010.  Her research examines the health and financial well-being of children and adults with disabilities, as well as their caregiving families. She is particularly interested in family support, the health of women with intellectual disabilities, and the impact of health policies and poverty policies on people with disabilities and their families.

Parish teaches classes in disability policy and both quantitative and qualitative research methods.

The selection committee said it was awed by the unanimity of students' enthusiasm for the way Parish challenges them in the classroom. The committee said it became clear in reviewing the nominations that Parish, through a potent combination of energy, expertise, and respect for students, creates a community of learning in the classroom in which individual students are both emboldened and sharpened as critical thinkers.

Said a student who took Parish's Research Methods class: "She took a subject that could have been dry and made it into something exciting, relevant, morally and emotionally engaging and intellectually challenging -- and in the process masterfully facilitated a lively, open and always entertaining class."

The mentoring award was given to Holcombe for outstanding support and encouragement of the research, education, and professional and personal development of Heller students.

Holcombe's teaching and publications build on a career of practice, and focus on building capabilities for human development. She has been a faculty member at Heller since 2001.  She was Program Director for Oxfam America and has served in various positions with UNFPA, UNIFEM and UNICEF in New York and in field postings. Currently she teaches in the M.A. and M.S. Programs in Sustainable International Development.

In making the decision about the mentoring award, the committee was moved by the fact that students lauded Holcombe's mentoring in a broad array of areas, from the professional to the personal.  It was clear that not only does she counsel students about courses and career choices, but she is interested in their entire selves, is generous with her time and reaches out to students as much as they to reach out to her.

Said one student: "She is always open to guide me if and when I seek out her assistance.  She is sensitive to one's personal life and provides sweet advice to help me reach my full potential."

Said another: "She has mentored me from a shy young woman to a confident development worker."

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