OBERWAGER PRIZE REWARDS FACULTY FOR HELPING STUDENTS REACH THEIR POTENTIAL
Elet Callahan G’84 loves teaching in the School of Management, and it shows—in the spirited way she motivates students to do their best, in the open way she encourages them to drop by her office to chat, in the caring way she remembers to give them lolipops on their birthdays. It’s no wonder then that one of those students nominated Callahan for the Oberwager Prize, established by Burn Oberwager ’68 to reward School of Management faculty members who are a positive influence on students.
Management professors Elet Callahan and Scott Webster received Oberwager Prizes.
The first two Oberwager Prizes were awarded last spring to Callahan, a professor of law and public policy, and Scott Webster, a professor of operations management. Callahan didn’t know she’d been nominated for the prize until School of Management Dean George Burman called to tell her she’d won. “It’s gratifying to have been nominated by one of my students,” Callahan says. “The School of Management is small enough for me to get to know students well and keep in regular contact with them throughout their academic and professional careers. I get a huge kick out of hearing from former students.”
Webster was also surprised to learn he’d won the award. “I’m honored to be one of the first faculty members chosen to receive an Oberwager Prize,” he says. “I thank Mr. Oberwager for his generosity and for giving me the flexibility to implement ideas that benefit my students. His gift is truly inspiring, and I know the award will have a significant impact on the School of Management in years to come.”
For the next four years, junior and senior management students will be invited to nominate faculty to receive Oberwager Prizes. A small committee, headed by Dean Burman, reviews nominations and selects annual recipients. “The Oberwager Prizes give me a remarkable opportunity to motivate and reward faculty for helping students achieve the full potential of their talent and promise,” Burman says. “The prize money is a significant incentive in helping faculty grow as mentors, scholars, and teachers, which in turn has a positive impact on our students.”
The $10,000 award that accompanies each Oberwager Prize is used for professional development and other academic purposes. Callahan and Webster agree that the prize money should increase informal interactions between faculty members and students. “Scott and I are exploring various ways to use the prize money to actively promote social and mentoring connections between faculty and students,” Callahan says. “Students need to realize that someone is paying attention and cares about them as individuals.”
PROFESSOR EXPLORES IMPACT OF GI BILL OF RIGHTS ON VETERANS' LIVES
Created in 1944, the GI Bill of Rights was intended to help millions of returning World War II veterans readjust to civilian life, through unemployment allowances, loans, and educational and training benefits. But according to political science professor Suzanne Mettler, the program had a deeper effect that the government may not have foreseen: It fostered a strong sense of civic duty in the men and women who took part. “Today people lament the decline of civic life and look back to this period as a great heyday,” she says. “We usually think it has to do with people having different values or moral upbringings back then, but my findings suggest it had something to do with the government as well.”
Mettler began studying the GI Bill’s educational provisions several years ago, while researching how people understand their rights, responsibilities, and obligations as American citizens. Many who benefited from public policy initiatives, she says, defined these roles based on their interaction with the government. “Americans tend to be skeptical of government programs,” she says. “But if you bring up the GI Bill, all you hear are accolades. People thought of it as an important program that made a huge difference in their lives.”
Veterans of the Korean and Vietnam wars had similar programs, and the Montgomery GI Bill was created in the 1980s for recruitment purposes. But Mettler says none were as generous as the original, with its full tuition allowance for up to four years of college or vocational training, and stipends for living expenses. “Many of these veterans were married and had children, yet they still managed to acquire additional education,” she says. “It was an amazing program.”
Mettler set out to learn about the GI Bill’s social and economic implications, as well as its effect on civic life and politics. Using mailing lists from military unit associations, she surveyed hundreds of veterans. She also sent surveys to veterans and non-veterans who were 1949 graduates of 12 universities and colleges, including SU. She then interviewed many of the respondents. Of the survey respondents who used the GI Bill, 63 percent said they would not otherwise have gone to college or taken vocational training. Many others said it would have taken them much longer to get an education.
Mettler also found a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds among GI Bill veterans. “Many of them were the children of immigrants, or lived in small, rural places, and mining towns,” she says. “Their parents always told them, ‘I want you to do better than I did,’ and really encouraged them to get an education any way they could. Then along came the GI Bill.”
Mettler found that people who benefited from the program went on to become active in community and civic organizations, and were more politically active than their peers. “People had a positive experience with government through the GI Bill,” she says, “and they became much more incorporated as citizens because of it.”