CAFNR Chalks Up Another Victory

2014 Gold Chalk Awards presented to Mary Grigsby of rural sociology and Mike Smith of animal sciences

Two of CAFNR’s own each received a Gold Chalk Award. Mary Grigsby, associate professor of rural sociology, and Mike Smith, professor of animal sciences, were recognized for their impact on the education of their graduate students.

Each year, the University of Missouri Graduate Professional Council awards Gold Chalk Awards to professors who have made significant contributions to the professional and academic paths of their students. The GPC recognizes one outstanding person from the School of Medicine, School of Law, College of Veterinary Medicine, and one from each of the six Graduate School academic divisions. This year,

Grigsby Gold ChalkGrigsby was nominated by one of her graduate students, Mandy Sims. At the Gold Chalk Banquet, Sims delivered a speech highlighting the instrumental role her professor has played in her success. She credited Grigsby’s hand in expanding the graduate program to offer two more courses, fruitful efforts to find more funding opportunities for research, and expression of the dedication and enthusiasm Sims hopes to one day pass on to her own graduate students.

“Dr. Grigsby takes a holistic view of students in their academic development and takes great care to get to know us on both a professional and personal level,” Sims said.

Sims praised Grigsby’s efforts to help students find their passion in academia by drawing connections between personal interests and research questions. Grigsby also furthers student success through her appointment with the Graduate School’s Preparing Future Faculty Program, Sims said.

“Dr. Grigsby fully invests herself in seeing her students through successful research and writing projects. She always has her eye on the next step while continuing to encourage us to produce new scholarship,” Sims said.

Mike Smith Gold ChalkMike Smith, of the Division of Animal Sciences, was also nominated by a Ph.D. student in his lab. In Ky Pohler’s nomination letter, examples of Smith’s outstanding mentorship are plentiful. He illuminated Smith’s effective teaching philosophy as well as his willingness to help his students gain international experience.

“His view on graduate education and training is not one of seniority or one of power but rather of partnership,” Pohler wrote.

Since beginning his role of mentorship, Smith has guided 17 Master’s and 7 Ph.D. students through University of Missouri programs and published more than 241 abstracts, 144 peer reviewed journal articles, and 6 book chapters. His enthusiasm to foster graduate learning and experience shows through his devotion to student publication and involvement with conferences and international collaboration, Pohler said.

“Every day I feel fortunate to work with a mentor of his caliber and consider him to be the most influential person on helping me shape my young career,” Pohler wrote.

Another past student, Jacqueline Atkins, reflected fondly on Smith’s zeal for engaging in weekly discussions of research in their field. Atkins described the lasting benefits Smith imparts by taking the time out of his packed schedule to prepare seminars to get students thinking critically about scientific literature.

“We learned to appreciate scientific method and understand the importance of knowing the experiments that support what we hold to be true,” Atkins wrote.

The Graduate Professional Council presented Grigsby and Smith with their Gold Chalk Awards April 21, at a banquet held at the Missouri Theater.