Faculty News

Linda Tillman receives 2009 Jay D. Scribner Mentoring Award from the University Council for Educational Administration

Linda Tillman, professor of educational administration, has been selected to receive the 2009 Jay D. Scribner Mentoring Award from the University Council for Educational Administration. The award will be presented at the UCEA Annual Convention Nov. 19-22, 2009, in Anaheim, Calif.

The award honors an Educational Leadership faculty member who has made a substantial contribution to the field by mentoring doctoral students into university research professors and supporting and advising junior faculty.

The award is named for Jay D. Scribner, the Ken McIntyre Professor of Educational Administration at the University of Texas-Austin. Throughout his career, Scribner has reached across racial, gender and class differences to mentor and nurture a host of educational leadership scholars from under-represented backgrounds.

Faculty from UCEA’s 86 member institutions are eligible for this award. A UCEA committee reviews the nominees and selects a recipient.

Tillman’s nomination was supported by letters from 15 colleagues and students, many of whom have been mentored by her. They enthusiastically attested to her extraordinary accomplishments as a mentor, researcher and teacher, as well as her impact on the field.


According to her nominators, Tillman has a “personal mentoring hotline.” She devotes a great deal of time and energy to phone conversations with junior scholars all over the country. “Her honesty about her professional experiences really resonates with many assistant professors in their first three years,” wrote one nominator.

Tillman’s accomplishments with UCEA ─ as associate chair for graduate student development and in particular with the Barbara L. Jackson Scholars Network ─ and her comparable work with AERA – as vice president of Division A (Administration and Organization) ─ were described as “legendary.”

In 2006, she took responsibility for managing the Barbara L. Jackson Scholars Network. “Under her leadership, this UCEA effort has flourished,” one nominator wrote. She strengthened and institutionalized the Network, provided organizational structure, enriched the quality of mentor selection, increased the visibility of the program and developed a strong set of scholar and mentor activities at both AERA and UCEA conferences.

As a result, one nominator stated, “It has become an integral part of UCEA’s contribution to developing scholars of color and an example for other mentoring programs.”

Furthermore, Tillman maintains individual connections with virtually all the Jackson Scholars, is consistently available to them if they have questions or problems and has provided ongoing education and development for them. She has built a strong community among the Scholars. Each time a Jackson Scholar becomes a new professor, she has assisted the UCEA and Division A community of educational leadership scholars to hold a celebration.

She maintains a connection with these new professors to ensure that they are able to be successful in their new positions. She recruits senior scholars who are willing to share candidly their true stories and wisdom for the purpose of helping assistant professors navigate the terrain of academia successfully. She has crafted meaningful publication opportunities for new faculty that otherwise would not have been possible, including special issues of refereed journals.

She also maintains individual connections with many of the Jackson mentors and has worked to increase the quality of the mentoring done by them.

In addition to her work for the Jackson Scholars Network, Tillman mentors through the David Clark National Seminar, the Division A mentoring committee, and the Sisters of the Academy.

One nominator related an experience at a Clark Seminar that demonstrated Tillman’s ability to reach across gender, class and racial differences in her mentoring relationships and serve young scholars of all backgrounds, not just students of color.

“We were in a small group of faculty and doctoral students. One young white doctoral student clearly had received very little mentoring and guidance at his home university. … Dr. Tillman took him aside and worked with him for several hours, trying to help him gain some fundamental understanding [of the research process]. She was incredibly kind, sensitive and committed in this encounter, and I was so impressed by her willingness to take so much time to do this for this one young man.” 

Tillman also has served in several mentoring capacities within her local community, such as an Advisory Board Member for the Dupont Teacher Mentoring Program in which she helped develop and train school leaders on how to be effective mentors.

Research and teaching

In addition to her extensive mentoring activities, Tillman also is a model scholar. Since undertaking such a high level of national service and leadership with UCEA and AERA in 2006, she has published three books, 22 peer-reviewed articles, 10 chapters and numerous other publications. Additionally, she has consistently presented at national conferences, led three special issues of peer-reviewed journals and sat on nine editorial boards.

Her research is cutting-edge and rigorous; much of it focuses on mentoring. “She pushes the envelope,” wrote one nominator. “Her article, ‘Mentoring African Americans in Higher Education,’ guides much of my work with graduate students and has been a heuristic to help me think about balancing and negotiating research, teaching and service. In fact, this article is cited in [my home university’s] Affirmative Action Committee’s report that outlines strategies for retaining people of color in faculty positions.”

Tillman also is a rigorous and gifted teacher, her nominators reported. “As my professional mentor, she has shared her course syllabi with me. She has also reviewed my course syllabi,” wrote one nominator. “There is no question that her courses are intellectually stimulating and challenging. In fact, I have adopted some of her pedagogical strategies in my own courses.”  

What her mentees and colleagues say

Perhaps the best way to capture the essence of Linda Tillman is to share a sample of the comments from her colleagues, many of them former mentees, who nominated her:

“Dr. Tillman’s professionalism matched with her candor allows us to easily relate to her and to trust in her wisdom. … When we ask her a question, we have come to expect an unambiguous and frank response. She is the real deal. .. She has been an inspiration, a formidable trailblazer and yet gracious enough to consistently reach back to motivate and encourage the most uncertain and timid among us.”

“Other junior faculty colleagues and I often comment about how important Dr. Tillman has been to our success. She simply cares about people. She is authentic. She is trustworthy and goes out of her way to assist junior faculty in developing productive and meaningful careers in higher education.”

“She has worked hard to ensure that junior scholars, especially junior scholars of color, become part of the ‘organizational woodwork.’”

“She sets an example of the importance of providing rich opportunities for the recruitment of scholars of color, who are frequently discouraged and disenfranchised from the professorate.”

“She is a person so confident in her knowledge that it is easy for her to share freely.”

“She is compassionate but serious and has little tolerance for excuses.”

“She holds those who work with her to the highest standards of the profession.”

“I have heard countless stories from Jackson Scholars who are individually mentored by her – calls to check in on their doctoral progress, invitations to publish, advice on job placement and interviewing, and encouragement to keep striving despite disappointments and discriminations.”  

“She produces a significant body of scholarly work while also effectively mentoring junior faculty and doctoral students. Indeed she has become a shining example for how we should not only do the work but also inspire others to join us so that this profession continues to grow.”

“Quality, competence and thoughtful innovation in teaching, research and service [are hallmarks of her work. … She is] a barrier breaker in the field of educational administration and leadership who has opened wide the gates for others.”

“Because of her visionary work, the future of our field will be characterized by diversity and inclusivity, intellectual and scholarly variety, and cutting-edge thinking.”  

“She has found a way to blend her scholarly interests [in mentoring] with her moral and ethical commitments, forging a career that exemplifies the best of academe.”  

“Quite simply, she has literally helped to change the face of our profession, and [we] are far better for her efforts.”