NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Dr. Dean Coble, professor of forestry at Stephen F. Austin State University, is the first recipient of a recently endowed professorship that rewards faculty members who are excellent teachers and also serve as mentors for students.
The Jim Towns Mentoring Professorship recognizes professors who instill, foster and promote a mentoring culture at SFA. The award is named for Dr. Jim Towns, longtime professor of communication studies, and it is the only SFA professorship for which faculty members in all six academic colleges are eligible.
Coble joined the faculty of SFA's Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture in 2000 and teaches classes in forestry biometrics, timber management and applied regression in natural resources. He said he was "proud, honored, shocked and humbled" to be chosen as the inaugural recipient of the Towns professorship.
"I have a personal approach to mentoring in that I focus on individual relationships with students to help them develop professionally," he said.
"I focus on personal relationships that differ from individual to individual but have the common goal of helping the student reach for more than he or she believed possible. I am motivated by great examples in my life, former professors and colleagues as well as family and friends, because I know without their mentorship, I would not be who I am today."
The funding for the professorship was largely raised by Towns with the help of many of his colleagues and former students. Faculty mentoring and reverse mentoring are among Towns' research interests, and he has successfully mentored countless students throughout his distinguished 46-year career at SFA.
"I really wanted to endow a professorship that would encourage mentoring relationships, which I think have benefitted me as much as my students over the years," Towns said.
"Students are drawn to Dr. Coble and desire to emulate him both professionally and personally. He provides an excellent example of how mentoring relationships between students and faculty members can benefit both parties tremendously. He is most deserving of this recognition."