March 25, 2020

SUNY Empire State College Professor Alan Mandell Honored as 2020 SUNY Distinguished Service Professor

Professor Mandell Recognized for more than 40 Years with SUNY Empire


(SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – March 25, 2020) SUNY Empire State College today announced Alan Mandell, professor of adult learning and mentoring and School of Social and Behavioral Sciences mentor, has been named 2020 SUNY Distinguished Service Professor, an honor he has earned after more than 40 years with the College.

SUNY’s Service Teaching Professorship recognizes faculty for having achieved a distinguished reputation for service not only to the college and SUNY, but also to the community, the state of New York, and the nation, by sustained effort in the application of intellectual skills drawing from the candidate’s scholarly and research interests.

In addition to his role as the college’s professor of adult learning and mentoring, Mandell was also the first to hold the title of Susan Turben Chair in Mentoring at SUNY Empire State College. For more than four decades, he has served as administrator, mentor in the social sciences, and director of the college’s Mentoring Institute.

In his years of service to the college, Mandell has been a central figure in developing and epitomizing the mentor-student relationship that forms a core of SUNY Empire’s personalized, one-on-one learning model.

“Dr. Mandell is the personification of SUNY Empire State College’s essence and mission and I can think of no person more deserving of this recognition,” said SUNY Empire State College President Jim Malatras. “He cares for his students, and the relationships he’s fostered with so many are incredible. I’m grateful for all he’s done, and I hope he knows just how fortunate SUNY Empire is to have him.”

“Dr. Mandell has used his extensive research and scholarship to enhance the body of knowledge on adult education, prior learning assessment, and mentoring,” said SUNY Empire State College Provost Meg Benke. “He selflessly shares this knowledge for the betterment of students both here in New York and around the world."

“I worked with Dr. Mandell for many years while I was president and CEO of the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) between 1990 and 2018,” said Pamela Tate, former president and CEO of the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning. “He has been a regular and sought-after contributor to CAEL’s annual conferences for more years than I can count. He has done dozens of excellent presentations there and has always been a prominent voice in our field. His publications, such as SUNY Empire’s biannual publication On Mentoring, Explorations in Adult Higher Education, and Prior Learning Assessment Inside and Out , have also been helpful to many in the adult learning field. He is clearly a thought leader.”

“The foundational practice of mentoring as the practice to support adult learning, while challenged in recent years as of course all practices should be, offers the core of Professor Mandell’s institutional service,” said Alan Tait, professor emeritus of distance education and development, The Open University, UK, and fellow, Centre for Distance Education, University of London. “I believe it is true to say that Empire State College would not be the institution it is without the contribution that Professor Mandell has made, selflessly and in service."

“Thanks to everyone who made this possible,” said Dr. Mandell. “I am so honored and appreciative. To receive any individual recognition like this feels odd with everything going on in the world right now. Still, I am proud to be part of our ESC community that is stepping up, making it easier to connect, and offering support and little beads of hope to our faculty, staff, students, and communities. How lucky I am. Thank you.”

Mandell is an internationally recognized scholar who has published extensively on adult learning theory and new directions for adult education and experiential learning. A sampling of his most recent publications includes co-editing/authoring "Adult Learning in the Age of Trump and Brexit;" "Progressive Tensions in Progressive Higher Education;" "Adult Educators on Dewey’s Experience and Education;" "Tensions within the Neoliberal University: Sources of Change and Hope" and "Principles, Practices, and Creative Tensions in Progressive Higher Education: One Institution’s Struggle to Sustain a Vision."

In 2009, Mandell was honored by the Adult Higher Education Alliance with the Eugene Sullivan Award for Leadership in Adult Higher Education. He is the recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching (2001), the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Services (1991), and the Excellence in Mentoring Award (2000).

Mandell holds an A.B. in History from The University of Chicago, an M.A. in Sociology from The New School for Social Research, and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the City University of New York. Mandell attained the rank of full professor in 1998 and has taught in ESC's School of Social and Behavioral Sciences for almost 45 years. Much of his scholarship focuses on Adult Learning Theory and Practice, Mentoring and Transformative Learning and Sociological Theory. He will be honored at the Annual Distinguished Academy celebratory dinner and induction ceremony on June 23, along with the year’s other inductees from across the SUNY system.

About SUNY Empire State College

SUNY Empire State College educates students at any stage of life with a personalized learning experience delivered online, in person, or a blend of both. Since 1971, SUNY Empire has empowered students to earn an accredited degree around the demands of a busy lifestyle to advance their personal and professional goals. With world-class faculty, more than 1,300 dedicated mentors to help students tailor their degree programs, and cutting-edge distance learning technology, SUNY Empire delivers a trusted and flexible online college experience grounded in more than 30 New York State locations and seven international sites where students can learn and collaborate in person. Our nearly 50 years as a leader in awarding credit for prior learning and life experience helps students earn a degree faster and at lower cost. To learn more, visit  and follow @SUNYEmpire.