May 26, 2020
Dmitriy Ivanov

Prof. O’Hara Nominated for NE10 Faculty Mentor Award 

A cornerstone of the Assumption mission is providing an education that forms the whole person; that creates graduates with critical intelligence, thoughtful citizenship, and compassionate service. One of the ways this is accomplished is through the dedication of Assumption faculty, who not only share their expertise with students in the classroom, but offer support and mentorship in their daily lives. 

Elizabeth O’Hara, Ed.D., assistant professor of management and marketing in the Grenon School of Business, is a leading example of a professor who strives to help her students and is committed to both their academic and personal successes. For this, she has been nominated by Assumption student-athletes for the Northeast-10 Conference’s fourth annual Dr. Dave Landers Faculty Mentor Award, which “recognizes a faculty member from a league institution that has supported the efforts of student-athletes in achieving their academic goals.” Prof. O’Hara is one of 14 faculty from NE10 schools nominated for the award. 

“It is my job, my passion to help students be successful,” she said. “There is no greater feeling than helping my kids, guiding them and using my experience in the workforce to help them.”

According to Prof. O’Hara, faculty play a critical role in students’ lives both inside and outside of the classroom. “The chats in the halls, the discussions in their offices, showing up at their athletic, drama or art events – being present, being a presence – it makes a huge difference,” she said.  

While Prof. O’Hara believes that being a faculty member at a college or university is a commitment to students and their caretakers and parents, it is also an opportunity to be a positive influence and to help students.  “It is a chance to teach them,” she said. “Not just textbook learning but about life. During four years of college life, students gain more than academic knowledge – they gain life skills, opportunities to grow and mature, and there is nothing more rewarding than being part of that growth.”

Prof. O’Hara believes becoming a mentor is something that happens organically. “College students need someone they can trust, someone with whom they can share their ideas, fears, wonders, and questions,” she said, adding that students learn who they can trust, who believes in them, shows an interest in their well-being, and who will help guide them in the right direction. According to Prof. O’Hara, these types of conversations don’t always happen during office hours, but in the halls, while walking on campus, or in the cafeteria, at any time of day. “Communication is a huge part of this, it’s about being accessible,” she said. “Their lives don’t shut off at 5 p.m. So neither should mine.” 

And when Prof. O’Hara doesn’t get to see students on campus, like during the remote learning period of the spring semester, she attempts to stay in contact with them even more than normal via Zoom, texting, FaceTime, or by calling. She even sent cards and emails to as many of the graduating seniors as she could, “just to let them know they had people cheering for them,” she said. “It is a tough time, we want our students to know we are here and we care, that we are a community, and in the absence of being around each other, we still need to keep in touch.” 

Prof. O’Hara is an avid supporter of her students, often in attendance of their co-curricular activities and sporting events. Because of this, she is well-known among the coaches as a resource for their athletes. “If a student is struggling in class, or is going through hard times, the coaches feel comfortable calling me and making me aware,” she said, explaining that an open dialogue between coaches, administrators and staff “breaks down barriers and creates a great relationship that ultimately benefits our kids.”

For her, it’s all about being part of the greater team of the Assumption community. “The entire Assumption experience is about community,” she said. “From the first day new students move to campus, we’re there moving boxes, smiling, and talking to new Hounds. A big ‘hello’ welcome and taking time to meet them and chat can make a difference. And on graduation day, as seniors walk across the stage, nothing is more impactful than faculty cheering for them. Faculty who challenged them, who were there for the highs and lows. Community. It really is that simple.”

According to the NE10 website, the award, which was established in 2016 by the NE10 Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), is named after longtime St. Michael’s College professor and faculty athletic representative Dr. Dave Landers. The winner is voted on by a committee comprised of NE10 SAAC members and will be sent to the NCAA as the league’s nomination for the Division II Dr. Dave Pariser Faculty Mentor Award.

The 2019-20 Dr. Dave Landers Faculty Mentor Award will be announced on Thursday, May 28, via the NE10’s social media channels.