Kathleen Jones, associate professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of History in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, has received the university’s 2017 Alumni Award for Excellence in Graduate Academic Advising.
Established by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the Alumni Award for Excellence in Graduate Academic Advising is presented annually by the Office of the Provost to Virginia Tech faculty members who have been particularly dedicated and effective while advising graduate students. Recipients are selected by a committee of former award winners, receive a $2,000 prize, and are inducted into the university’s Academy of Advising Excellence.
Jones has chaired a total of 14 thesis committees, has served an additional 18 committees, and has supervised 12 master’s degree students who completed research papers for the department’s non-thesis option. Since her arrival in 1991, she has also served as an active member of the History Department Graduate Committee.
During her first three years as director of graduate studies, Jones implemented several reforms to the program, including developing a formal recruiting plan, authoring a policy manual, and instituting a new student orientation program. She also introduced a jobs workshop that showcases presentations from previous graduate students, a Ph.D. workshop to assist students interested in attaining a doctorate, and a graduate teaching assistant workshop for students embarking upon teaching.
“Dr. Jones worked diligently to improve the program for current students and also worked on ways to attract new qualified applicants,” wrote Debre Faith Skiles, a doctoral student in ASPECT, the Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought, in a letter of nomination. “She advocated for graduate students, worked as a mediator when necessary, and encouraged students when they felt overwhelmed. Her door was always open and her calendar free for anyone who needed her assistance — current or prospective students.”
In 2012, Jones received the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences’ Award for Excellence in Graduate Advising.
“To inform, to counsel, and to advocate: these are the principles that frame my philosophy of advising,” Jones said. “Absent from this list is the verb ‘to direct.’ As an advisor, I am guided by an approach that tries to put students in control of their choices.”