Social scientist Dr. John Waller honored with Mentor of the Year 2020 Award

April 23, 2020 - Liz Schondelmayer

Dr. John Waller, professor in the College of Social Science, was honored with the 2020 Undergraduate Research Faculty Mentor of the Year award for Michigan State University.

The award is given in recognition of those faculty members who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to mentoring undergraduate researchers. These awardees are exemplars of what it means to take ownership of student success.

Dr. Waller is a professor in the History Department and the present director of the Social Science Scholars Program. Dr. Waller’s nominating students praise his “unmatched commitment to undergraduate research,” as well as his “deep and meaningful commitment to his students’ personal and professional lives.” 

Dr. Waller’s undergraduate nominators expressed appreciation of his open door policy; he is known for working in the classroom adjacent to his office in order to be more accessible to students. He is also known for pushing his students to expand the scope of their work while remaining supportive.

“Dr. Waller expertly preserves balance between pushing our limits and cutting slack when it is needed,” according to one mentee. The “infinitely patient” Dr. Waller has mentored nearly 120 students over the last six years, and many will testify he has been instrumental in helping them achieve their ambitious goals: many of Dr. Waller’s students have been admitted to top law schools and hired by Fortune 500 companies.

The Undergraduate Research Faculty Mentor of the Year award is completely student-driven, as only undergraduate researchers can submit nominations and the university’s undergraduate Research Ambassadors review and select the finalists.

Learn more about Dr. Waller and the Social Science Scholars Program here

Dr. Waller (furthest right) poses with Social Science Scholars in England's lake district.