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University of California Santa Barbara
Academic Senate Awards

Prior Year Recipients

2016-17 Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award

Kum-Kum Bhavnani - Sociology

The 2017 Outstanding Graduate Mentor award is awarded to Professor Bhavnani of Sociology. Professor Kum-Kum Bhavnani has been a faculty member at UCSB for the past 25 years. Her interests lie in development, feminism and cultural studies. She not only uses traditional academic publishing to communicate her research, but also has made three films related to her research, and is in the process of making a fourth.

Through her research, she maintains close ties with graduate students. She has previously received awards for mentoring, including the 1999 UCSB Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award, and the 2012 Sociologists for Women in Society Mentorship Award.

As part of her teaching philosophy, Professor Bhavnani encourages active and co-operative learning on the part of students. She terms this process as “engaged pedagogy.” As such, she strongly encourages collaborative work.

Professor Bhavnani’s influence on her students is very clear. Two students who have won UCSB’s Lancaster Award (Tim Mechlinkski, 2008; Summer Gray, 2015). Her graduate students have gone on to prestigious faculty positions, including: San Jose State University, Vassar College, CSU Fullerton, CSU LA, and CUNY Staten Island.

Professor Bhavnani’s impact on students is extensive. She has participated in 83 graduate committees, including 56 masters’ committees (member 39, chair 17), and 27 PhD committees (member 22, chair 5).

In the classroom, Professor Bhavnani’s teaching is well recognized by her strong ESCI scores, which often have medians of 1.0 to 1.5.

Nomination letters can be readily summarized by one of her students who states, “I remember walking into her office on countless occasions ready to discuss a fellowship application or a seminar paper, and was always greeted with a sincerely delivered ‘How are you?’ that was graciously received. It is evident from anyone who has a conversation with Professor Bhavnani that she cares for people. She embodies the most beautiful forms of mentorship because of the way she prioritizes her students’ emotional and physical wellbeing in addition to inspiring us to continue making professional and scholarly progress.” Congratulations!