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Suzanne Kunkel, director of the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University, received the first Hiram J. Friedsam Mentorship Award at the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education’s (AGHE) Annual Meeting and Leadership Conference in San Antonio, Texas, March 1.

Kunkel, a Miami sociology and gerontology professor, was selected from five nationwide nominees. AGHE initiated the award this year in honor of the late professor Hiram J. Friedsam, a past-president of AGHE revered for his outstanding teaching and mentoring of students and colleagues. Friedsam was co-founder and former director of the Center for Studies in Aging and former dean of the School of Community Service at North Texas State University.

The Friedsam award “recognizes individuals from AGHE member institutions who have contributed to gerontological education through excellence in mentoring to students, faculty and administrators.”

Dawn Carr, a doctoral student in social gerontology at Miami, nominated Kunkel, praising her for personalizing the learning experience and giving students confidence.

“(She) gives all that she has for her students without strings attached,” said Carr. “Dr. Kunkel views teaching as reciprocal, allowing the classroom to function as a safe environment for students to grow, share and learn in new ways. She cares deeply for the people around her.”

J. Scott Brown, an associate professor of sociology and gerontology whom Kunkel has formally mentored, and doctoral student Hallie Baker added a letter in support of Carr’s nomination.

“Dr. Kunkel’s door has always been open, whether for professional advice … or for more personal mentoring such as conversations regarding the balance of faculty duties with family obligations,” Brown wrote.

Kunkel, co-author of the widely used textbook, Aging, Society, and the Life Course, and scores of articles on aging and demographics, has been director of the Scripps Gerontology Center since 1998 and a Miami professor since 1986. She also is a past-president of AGHE.

Among other awards, Kunkel received the Ohio Association of Gerontology and Education’s 2006 Educator of the Year Award and the 2003 Ohio Research Council on Aging’s Researcher of the Year Award.