Named for the first dean of our college, this award recognizes a current or retired faculty or staff member who has provided leadership in motivating and guiding students.
Emma Laing has filled many roles during her time in FACS.
Since 2003, she has served as a postdoc, research professional, assistant and associate research scientist and now clinical associate professor and director of the didactic program in dietetics.
To her students, her unofficial roles as mentor and role model are what make her stand out.
"For me, her influence not only impacted my college career, but left a positive impression that affects me daily," said 2019 graduate Peyton Ledford.
"She altered how I approach interpersonal connections, professional situations and new challenges. She has given me a deeper perspective of what kind of person I strive to be in life. Her kindness, encouragement, acceptance, mentorship and unending support is core to the fabric of who I am and will become."
Laing built an impressive reputation as a researcher in Rick Lewis's Bone and Body Composition Lab, publishing 33 peer-reviewed manuscripts and nine book chapters and securing more than $3.2 million in grants.
While earning many accolades for her research, Laing said she modeled her teaching and advising objectives around five guiding principles she learned from Lewis, who she described as her mentor:
1.Be knowledgeable as the expert in your field. 2. Be fair. 3. Be available. 4. Create diverse learning opportunities and 5. Challenge students so that they experience success.
"My teaching and learning philosophy centers on the premise that anyone can teach a course, but not everyone can advance the scholarship of instruction and make a difference in the lives of students," Laing said.
It is here where Laing excels, Ledford said.
"What I feel is most special about Dr. Laing is her dedication to seeing her students succeed," she said, "not only in her class, but in all classes, in all professions and in life. She wanted us to achieve our dreams, and did everything in her power to make sure we could."
Lewis credited Laing with "significantly advancing" the department's nationally-accredited dietetics program, which has boasted 97 and 95 percent match rates for students placed into dietetic internships in the last two years under Laing's guidance.
The national average is around 50-60 percent.
"As I prepare to retire from academia and look back on the many awards I have received, I can say with certainty that my successes are in large part due to the contributions of Dr. Laing," Lewis said. "Dean Creswell, for whom this award is named, also would have been proud of Dr. Laing's accomplishments in providing leadership in motivating and guiding students."
Laing described student engagement as a "two-way street," noting how much she is motivated by her students' enthusiasm for learning.
"I take my duty seriously to assist my students with reaching their academic and/or leadership potential while embracing diversity in their professional and personal lives," she said. "I'm honored to be a part of their journey."