May 15, 2014

Frances Mercer Wins Excellence in Mentoring Award

Frances Mercer, (c) is flanked by President Merodie Hancock and past winner of the SUNY Empire State College Foundation Award for Excellence in Mentoring Cynthia Bates. Photo/Empire State College

(WATERTOWN - May 15, 2014) Frances Mercer, of Watertown, won the Empire State College Foundation Award for Excellence in Mentoring, given during an awards dinner at the All College Conference.

Mercer is, “one of the most caring and thoughtful mentors I have worked with,” said Dean Nikki Shrimpton, of the college’s Syracuse location. Empire State College’s professors are called mentors, because they work one-to-one with their students.

She added that Mercer is known as a “mentor’s mentor,” whom other faculty seek out for ideas on degree program design for students in human services.

Shrimpton also described Mercer as, “an articulate and conscientious advocate for students.” Mercer has served in a number of capacities at every level of the college through the years, including as the coordinator for the Watertown location and co-convener of the community and human services area of study meetings. She has served on governance committees and represented the college at the Jefferson Higher Education Center. Her colleagues say that she is an able teacher, who presents information in a clear manner and adapts her delivery to each student’s learning style. They repeatedly noted her sensitivity to students’ needs and willingness to adapt her teaching to them. Mercer also has demonstrated a willingness to continue to learn and grow, colleagues said. Mercer has served as an effective spokesperson for the college in the community where she lives and works. She also generously shares insights and resources she develops with colleagues at other college locations.

Mercer has devoted time to meeting the needs and working closely with veterans and the diverse and transient population of soldiers and military family members at Fort Drum.

About the Foundation Award for Excellence in Mentoring

The criteria for this award include superb performance as a mentor, including the areas of teaching, student, advising, scholarship and service to the college. It is funded by the Empire State College Foundation.

About SUNY Empire State College

Empire State College, the nontraditional, open college of the SUNY system, educates more than 20,000 students worldwide at eight international sites, more than 35 locations in the state of New York, online, as well as face to face and through a blend of both, at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s levels.

The average age of an undergraduate student at the college is 35 and graduate students average age 40.

Most Empire State College students are working adults. Many are raising families and meeting civic commitments in the communities where they live, while studying part time.

In addition to awarding credit for prior college-level learning, the college pairs each undergraduate student with a faculty mentor who supports that student throughout his or her college career.

Working with their mentors, students design an individual degree program and engage in guided independent study and course work onsite, online or through a combination of both, which provides the flexibility for students to choose where, when and how to learn.

Students have the opportunity to enroll five times during the year.

The college’s 70,000 alumni are active in their communities as entrepreneurs, politicians, business professionals, artists, nonprofit agency employees, teachers, veterans and active military, union members and more.

The college was first established in 1971 by the SUNY Board of Trustees with the encouragement of the late Ernest L. Boyer, chancellor of the SUNY System from 1970 to 1977.

Boyer also served as United States commissioner of education during the administration of President


Media contact: David Henahan, director of communications

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