Heather Smith Receives Mentoring Award From the American Association of Geographers

Heather A. Smith, a professor of geography at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, is the 2023 recipient of the Susan Hardwick Excellence in Mentoring Award from the American Association of Geographers. The Hardwick Award is given annually to an individual geographer, group, or department who has demonstrated extraordinary leadership in building supportive academic and professional environments in their departments, associations, and institutions and guiding the academic and or professional growth of their students and junior colleagues.

“Dr. Smith’s professional interests and mentoring strengths have guided a generation of geography students in effective community engagement and in the ethical conduct of engaged research,” the association’s awards committee said. Smith was recognized for a commitment to providing more access, opportunity, attention, care, critical engagement, and professional development than is considered typical in academia.

“Further,” the committee said, “she has provided students with the skills and resources they need to succeed as scholars and practitioners. She shows sustained interest in the continued growth, well-being, and success of current and former students and faculty colleagues. The far-reaching impacts of her style of mentorship are carried forward by her mentees into other spaces and places.”

“I am particularly honored to receive this kind of national recognition for mentoring, which is not always recognized formally in things like annual reviews or performance evaluations,” Professor Smith said. “Mentoring awards like this one from the American Association of Geographers, and others I have received from my department and university, uplift and highlight mentoring’s importance in our professional practice as professors and administrators.”

Dr. Smith is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she majored in geography. She holds a master’s degree in geography from Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, and a Ph.D. in geography from the University of British Columbia.

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