Campus & Community

Marquand Award honors five for exceptional performance as advisers

4 min read

Five exceptional advisers are the winners of this year’s John Marquand Award, which recognizes excellence and dedication in the mentoring and guidance of Harvard undergraduates.

The recipients are Emma Dench, professor of the classics and of history; Andrew Berry, concentration adviser in organismic and evolutionary biology; Susannah Tobin, tutor in Leverett House; Dina Guzovsky ’08; and Ayodeji Ogunnaike ’10. Guzovsky and Ogunnaike are Peer Advising Fellows, advising first-year students on their social and academic lives.

“These are all people who’ve made a profound difference in the lives of College students,” says Monique Rinere, associate dean of academic advising. “They’ve shown time and again that they care about the whole student, both the academic and the personal. We are thrilled to be able to thank these advisers and grant them a little bit of the recognition they so richly deserve.”

Dench, who advised this year on two senior theses in ancient history, says her own experience as a student informs her current approach to advising.

“When I was an undergraduate studying classics at Oxford University in the 1980s, it took me a long time to find my own voice, and I very much appreciated one or two advisers who listened closely to what I was trying to say and helped me to develop and strengthen my own approach,” she says. “Working with students at Harvard, I’ve tried to pass on this experience a little.”

Dench says the theses of both students she advised this year evolved in unanticipated ways. “It was fascinating to see the process work out, to challenge them, and for both of us to formulate arguments, concede points, and have second thoughts,” she says. “I think it is a real privilege for professors to be able to work closely with such talented students.”

And, Dench says, Harvard students give a lot back to their advisers.

“Advising also helps me to share problems in my own research and to gain fresh perspectives on these while engaging closely in someone else’s original project.”

Having worked with scores of students as a resident tutor for seven years, Tobin says the honor is especially meaningful to her because she finds student advising to be central to the role of the resident tutor.

“A large part of advising is listening,” she says. “Students here tend to work things out on their own and often just need an attentive sounding board for their ideas and concerns, so I try to provide that. It’s a joy to know so many intelligent, creative, and generous people.”

“I think student advising at a place like Harvard performs an important function because it’s a great way to facilitate the use of the almost intimidating resources available here,” says Ogunnaike, who advised 11 first-year students this year as a Peer Advising Fellow.

Winners of the Marquand Award — selected from more than 125 nominations made by College students — receive a small stipend. A reception this fall will celebrate their contributions.

“We don’t usually grant five Marquand Awards, but our pool of nominees was unusually strong this year,” Rinere says. “We’d like to think the number of nominations testifies to the value our students place on good advising.

Rinere also attributes the rising number of Marquand nominations to the efforts of Jon Staff ’10, who publicized the award this year and solicited students’ nominations on behalf of the Undergraduate Council (UC).

The Marquand Award is jointly administered by the Advising Programs Office, led by Rinere, and the UC. A panel comprising Advising Programs Office staff, Office of Academic Programs staff, the dean of freshmen, and senior faculty chose the Marquand Award recipients from among the nominees.

Before his death in 1992, John Marquand served as senior tutor in Dudley House, secretary of the administrative board in the College, and secretary of the faculty for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, among other roles. The Marquand Award was established by alumni whose lives were profoundly impacted by John Marquand. The award was first presented in 2001.