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Fleuriet receives President’s Distinguished Achievement Award in Faculty Mentoring

May 26, 2021
Fleuriet receives President’s Distinguished Achievement Award in Faculty Mentoring

Profile photo of Jill Fleuriet

Jill Fleuriet, professor in the Department of Anthropology and acting dean of the Honors College, has received the inaugural President’s Distinguished Achievement Award in Faculty Mentoring. Fleuriet is defining what it means to be an exceptional mentor through her above and beyond commitment to fostering the success of both her fellow faculty and students. 

“I was delighted to be recognized for relationships and work deeply meaningful to me," says Fleuriet. "Mentors have made the difference in my professional life, and this award honors their work as much as mine."

In Fleuriet’s early years as an assistant professor, she realized she could have used the help of a good mentor. For future assistant professors and graduate students, Fleuriet set out to build the structural supports for empowering and effective mentor relationships for both faculty and students. This coincides with her research to understand and disrupt structures and behaviors that uphold inequality, particularly for women and people of color in academia who are primary caregivers. 

Fleuriet volunteered to take the lead role in developing and writing the Department of Anthropology’s first mentorship policy in 2015. When UTSA adopted a policy for all tenure-track faculty, she became the first formal mentor of the program. One of her first mentees was Assistant Professor of Anthropology Devin Flaherty. 

“Not in my career, nor in my personal life, have I ever worked with a mentor as skillful, committed, integrous, and caring as Jill," says Flaherty. "She has taken mentorship on as a core element of her identity as a scholar."

“Not in my career, nor in my personal life, have I ever worked with a mentor as skillful, committed, integrous, and caring as Jill,” says Flaherty. “She has taken mentorship on as a core element of her identity as a scholar.”

Acutely aware of the power differential in mentoring relationships, Fleuriet ensures her mentees feel valued by encouraging their perspectives and input. This highly personal approach enables her to better understand her mentees’ goals. She can then orient her advice to provide the best path to success. 

One prevailing characteristic of Fleuriet’s mentorship is her ability to cultivate networks. This allows her to provide the best possible points of contact for her mentees, helping them build their own individual networks within their fields. As many of her mentees can attest, being a mentee of Fleuriet connects you to a larger web of possibilities. 

Fleuriet also underscores the value her mentees have in improving her capacity as a mentor. Aside from staying up to date with mentoring best practices, Fleuriet frequently reaches out to her mentees to ask what she can do better. 

“Her unique ability to extend support and guidance as a mentor while simultaneously appreciating, engaging, and learning from those she mentors dissolves the boundaries of mentor and mentee,” says Deborah Moon Wagner, senior lecturer in the Department of Anthropology. “By doing this, Jill always creates an environment that fosters true and active collaboration that enhances the experience for everyone.” 

Fleuriet’s commitment to faculty success can also be seen in her extensive service roles. She is frequently a panelist, speaker, emcee, judge, and moderator, helping to share her knowledge and passion for teaching and mentoring. She received the President’s Distinguished Achievement Award for Excellence in University Service in 2019 for her efforts to strengthen the UTSA community. 

Outside of faculty mentorship, Fleuriet has mentored 29 students to graduation during her career at UTSA. Graduate students she has mentored have won prestigious awards, including the Ford Foundation Fellowship, the National Science Foundation doctoral and graduate research fellowships, and the American Association for Hispanics in Higher Education Outstanding Dissertation Award. She has also helped students discover careers outside of academia through her Teaching Anthropology seminar and her Applied Anthropology course. Fleuriet received the Richard S. Howe Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2019 and the President’s Distinguished Achievement Award for Teaching Excellence in 2015 for these efforts.

A further testament to Fleuriet’s dedication to student success is her encouragement of grad students to engage with each other as peer mentors. This creates a fundamental practice of mentorship for her students to develop effective working relationships and pursue roles of mentorship in their future careers. 

Fleuriet received the UT System Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award in 2017 and subsequently was inducted into the UTSA Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars. In addition, she has been the UTSA representative for the UT System Women Senior Leaders Network Sponsorship Conference Planning Committee. As a fellow of the University of Texas System Academy of Distinguished Teachers, she serves as Secretary and Chair of the Committee for Visiting Teaching Faculty Initiative. 

The Faculty Mentoring Award was created to foster a culture of faculty mentoring at UTSA. The award recognizes, encourages, and rewards faculty who are exemplary in their commitment to mentoring within the university. Through mentoring in critical areas such as teaching and research, awardees are recognized for their impact on the opportunities and development of other UTSA faculty.