Monday, April 12, 2004
Russell Walker Receives the 2004 University Advising Award
Russell Walker, teaching professor and Associate Department Head of Mathematical Sciences, has received the 2004 Academic Advising Award, one of the University’s most prestigious honors. The award was presented on April 13.
Walker has been the primary advisor to all undergraduate majors and minors in mathematics for more than 15 years. “To say that advising is part of Russ Walker’s job description is to grossly understate the exemplary job he does for the Mathematical Sciences Department and the university,” stated a nomination letter submitted by mathematics faculty William Hrusa, Roy Nicolaides, Jack Schaeffer and Steven Shreve.
In addition to advising students within the department, Walker also advises students campus-wide on the selection of mathematics courses. This task is formidable given the large number of non-majors that the department serves, according to the nomination letter. As department chairman Nicolaides points out, Walker has sole responsibility for the mathematics course placement of freshmen and transfer students across the entire university and on the new Qatar campus. This year alone more than 1,100 students took the placement test that Walker developed to aid in this difficult process.
Walker, who joined the MCS faculty in 1985, not only advises students on what courses to take, but he also counsels students in career options and planning. His web site has hundreds of links to information relevant to mathematics students, including research experiences for undergraduates, mathematics competitions, internship and job search resources and events and happenings in Pittsburgh.
Throughout the year, Walker also serves as a highly effective recruiter for the university, according to the nomination letter.
He conducts sessions during “Sleeping Bag” weekends to meet with prospective students and their parents when they visit campus to discuss degree programs within Mathematical Sciences.
“Our majors as well as students outside the department hold Dr. Walker in high regard and turn to him for all manner of advice. His door is always open to our students. He knows them all, and truly seems to care about each of them,” wrote Hrusa, Nicolaides, Schaeffer and Shreve.
The Academic Advising Award recognizes outstanding contributions in helping students to define and achieve their academic goals. Activities honored include advising on course selection, choice of major/minor, long-term career goals and personal development.
By: Amy Pavlak