Four from faculty receive Carpenter Advising Awards

Four Cornell faculty members have received Kendall S. Carpenter Memorial Advising Awards, which recognize sustained and distinguished contributions of professorial faculty and senior lecturers to undergraduate advising.

The awards were established by Stephen Ashley ’62, MBA ’64, in honor of his adviser, Kendall S. Carpenter, a professor of business management at Cornell from 1954 until his death at the age of 50 in 1967.

“Never has it been more important for students to be guided by faculty who are so deeply committed to their intellectual growth and personal well-being,” said Lisa Nishii, vice provost for undergraduate education. “These faculty are exceptional role models, not just for the students they have advised but for their colleagues.”


Derek Chang

Derek Chang, associate professor in the Department of History and interim director of the Asian American Studies Program in the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S), was described by his nominator as “a vital resource for students of color … He offers empathy and insight for these students at Cornell.” Wrote one of his advisees: “I doubted my capabilities at Cornell and not even my parents could have given me the feeling of acceptance and reassurance that Derek did when he unconditionally believed in me. He has saved my life in ways he does not even know and pushed me to find myself as an individual which is a lesson I will value for the rest of my life.”

A theme that emerged among all of the nominating materials for Margaret Frey, the Vincent V.C. Woo Professor in the Department of Fiber Science and Apparel Design in the College of Human Ecology, was her dedication to mentoring and advising undergraduates. In addition to working with students in traditional advising settings and welcoming them with an “open door” policy, she has also served in roles such as faculty fellow for Balch Residence Hall for first-year women and senior associate dean for undergraduate affairs. Wrote one student: “She is an amazing advisor and teacher, she takes her role in academia very seriously, and truly cares for those she advises.”

Jerrie Gavalchin, associate professor in the Department of Animal Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, who died in 2020 while bicycling with her daughter near her home in Groton, New York, received the award posthumously. In a 21-year Cornell career, she advised hundreds of students, who consistently described her generosity and encouragement. Wrote one advisee: “She went above and beyond for me at a point in my life where I didn’t even believe in myself anymore. I don’t know if I would have graduated, and my life would have been very different without her.” Another wrote that Gavalchin was “a go-getter in my corner who knew what I needed to do to achieve my goals … She was my most important asset during this time of my life.”


Alexander Ophir

Alexander Ophir, associate professor in the Department of Psychology (A&S), was praised for his commitment to mentoring students from underrepresented backgrounds and his willingness to serve as a lifelong mentor. “A substantial number of undergraduate students who have written in support of this nomination are presently in Ph.D. programs – and while the Ph.D. is not the path that everybody chooses, the number and diversity of Professor Ophir’s advisees who did choose this path make clear that he not only opened the door but removed it from its hinges and laid it down as a bridge,” one student wrote. Another wrote: “I can unequivocally say that Dr. Ophir’s undergraduate advising is one of the (if not the) most critical factors that has led to my success as an academic.”

Read this story in The Cornell Chronicle.

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