Sponsored by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the Alumni Award for Excellence in Graduate 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.
Since joining the Department of Science, Technology, and Society in 2001, Halfon has been instrumental in the overall success of its graduate advising. He is a department leader in the number of students advised, student retention, completion rates, and job placement of graduates.
Seven of Halfon’s advisees have completed their doctorates, and he now chairs the committees of eight additional doctoral students. He has also served on the committees of 15 completed doctorates and is currently serving on another 10.
Some of Halfon’s greatest advising successes have involved service to international students. He is known for his attention to the cultural and language issues these students face. His former students from South Korea, Taiwan, and India have obtained academic positions in their home countries after completion of their degrees.
“Saul continued to mentor me after I became a tenure-track assistant professor of women’s studies at the University of California, Riverside,” wrote Chikako Takeshita, who earned her doctorate in 2004, in a letter of nomination. “He has given me advice at the most crucial moments of my career.”
Jennifer Henderson, who completed her doctorate in the department in 2016, said, “Saul regards all of us with respect, takes keen interest in our success in whatever ways we define it, and expresses to us great insight, commitment, and caring.”
Daniel Breslau, chair of the Department of Science, Technology, and Society, also noted Halfon’s support to graduate students.
“Saul is extraordinarily attentive and respectful of students in his effort to understand each one’s unique qualities and interests,” Bresalau said. “He has vast knowledge of the intellectual landscape of our profession, which allows him to help students turn their passions and curiosity into solid contributions to scholarship. I am always struck by the transformation his students seem to invariably undergo, emerging as mature scholars.”
Halfon’s commitment to high-quality graduate instruction and advising has led to his appointment as the department’s director of graduate studies. He has also served as chair of the University Commission on Graduate Studies and Policy, the University Graduate Curriculum Committee, and the College Graduate Curriculum Committee. In addition, he has served, by invitation, on the Graduate School Dean’s Graduate Culture Task Force.
Written by Lindsey Grooms, a public relations major and member of the Class of 2019