Campus & Community

Engell, Bell honored for advising with Marquand Prize:

3 min read

Prize underscores importance of good advising to students' academic experience and futures

A house tutor whose enthusiasm enhances the social and academic lives of Pforzheimer House residents and a senior faculty member who goes beyond the boundaries of his office, his workday, and his department to advise students received the second annual John R. Marquand Prize for Exceptional Advising and Counseling.

James Engell, Gurney Professor of English Literature and professor of comparative literature, and Pforzheimer House resident tutor Richard Bell were honored at a reception at Pforzheimer House Friday (April 18). The prize, awarded by the Harvard Undergraduate Council (UC) to one faculty member and one nonfaculty adviser, underscores the importance of good advising to students’ academic experience and their futures.

“Advising is something that is very necessary,” says Matt Mahan ’05, chair of the UC student affairs committee, adding that all students can benefit from careful guidance in choosing from the myriad courses, concentrations, and careers that face them as undergraduates. “We want to draw attention to good advising.”

Engell and Bell were selected from hundreds of student nominations. Engell was commended for extending his commitment to undergraduates far beyond what was expected of him, reviewing the plans of study for every history and literature concentrator, joining students in the dining halls, and even advising one student on a thesis that was outside Engell’s department.

“A number of students talked about him taking the time to get to know them and helping them make really tough decisions, even after they graduated,” said Mahan.

Engell acknowledged that good advising takes a lot of time, but that it’s time well spent. “This whole process is also immensely rewarding,” he said. “Young people grow and mature so quickly at times, and they do astonishing things, things you could not have predicted a couple of years previously. They emerge as full, personable individuals and they teach their teachers a lot, too.” Nominations lauded Bell, a fourth-year graduate student studying early American history and the history of suicide, for the thorough academic advising, compassionate personal counseling, and spirited extracurricular energy he brings to students in Pforzheimer House.

“If Rick Bell was not in Pforzheimer House, the house would not be the same,” said Sheila Adams ’05, who presented his award.

“I really love my job and students can see that I am getting so much out of being a part of their community,” said Bell. In every house activity and every interaction I try to give as much of myself as I can and to experience life at Harvard from the same perspective as the students.”

The Marquand Prize honors legendary Dudley House senior tutor John H. Marquand, who died of cancer in 1991. Robert Aranow ’77, who spoke at the reception Friday, led a group of alumni in raising money to create the prize, which awards $1,500 to each recipient.