June 26, 2015

Faculty Mentor Frank Vander Valk Named Susan H. Turben Chair in Mentoring

Frank Vander Valk Named Turben Chair in Mentoring

Frank Vaner Valk

Frank Vander Valk, associate professor and academic coordinator for political science with SUNY Empire State College’s Center for Distance Learning, was named the Susan H. Turben Chair in Mentoring for SUNY Empire State College. For the past 10 years at the college, Vander Valk has been a mentor dedicated to thinking creatively about the relationship between knowledge, technology and educational structures. He has a record of seeking out novel approaches to mentoring in order to meet the emerging challenges of higher education.

“It is an honor to have been chosen to serve as the Susan H. Turben Chair in Mentoring,” said Vander Valk.  “Strong support for mentoring as a core pedagogical commitment is one of the things that sets SUNY Empire State College apart.  I look forward to making a contribution to the tradition of experimental and innovative educational theory and practice at the college.”

“I congratulate Frank Vander Valk for his selection as the Susan H. Turben Chair in Mentoring,” said Merodie A. Hancock, president of the college. “This award recognizes those who are the very best mentors of our students. Students’ learning experience, academic success and degree completion are at the very top of our faculty mentors’ priorities. Again this year, there were many strong nominations from across the state, which makes it difficult to select just one person a year for this highly prestigious award.”

As Turben chair, Vander Valk will focus on conducting research at the intersection of education theory, philosophy, mentoring and the emerging field of digital learning. His efforts will align with and build upon work already begun at the college with the Project for Online Open Learning. “This research will address the question of how our access to information in a digital age is connected to how we construct knowledge,” Vander Valk said. “It speaks to the emerging understanding of what an education is in an era of easy access to information, and by extension, what role a college will play.”

The project’s ultimate goals are to advance mentoring practice, and also establish Empire State College as a place of leading-edge, peer-reviewed research in the field of educational theory and practice. The insights his research will yield will contribute greatly to the conversation and development of the college going forward.

About the Susan H. Turben Award Chair in Mentoring

The Susan H. Turben Chair in Mentoring was created to promote excellence in mentoring as the primary relationship between students and faculty. This endowed chair is named in honor of Susan H. Turben, the second graduate of the college and an internationally recognized expert on families and child development.

Along with serving as a member of the Empire State College Foundation board of directors, Turben has been a long-time, passionate supporter of professional development opportunities for the college’s faculty mentors.

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 degree levels.

The average age of an undergraduate student at the college is 35, and graduate students’ average age is 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 73,000 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 Jimmy Carter and then as president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.


More information about the college is available at www.esc.edu.


Media contact: David Henahan

518-587-2100, ext.