Paul Fritz, PhD, associate professor of political science in the Peter S. Kalikow School of Government, Public Policy and International Affairs, has been named the 2016 Mentor of the Year, an annual award that honors outstanding faculty supervision of advanced undergraduate research.
“This is a great honor, of course, but it’s also quite humbling because I know just how many of my colleagues across the University are wonderful mentors that I, in fact, try to emulate,” said Dr. Fritz. “I also feel extraordinarily lucky to have worked with some of our very best students, who continually amaze me with their intellect and ambition. It also makes me reflect on all of the wonderful, generous mentors I’ve had throughout my career, from my undergraduate professors to my graduate school advisors to my colleagues at Hofstra and elsewhere.”
The Mentor of the Year award, now in its fifth year, is given to a full-time faculty member who has guided students toward developing original ideas for research in any discipline – from the laboratory or clinic to the library, field, or stage — which marks the transition of the student into graduate studies or professional life.
Dr. Fritz teaches undergraduate courses on defense policy, American foreign policy, international politics, and has taught seminars on terrorism and U.N. research. For the past five years, he has also been the faculty advisor for senior political science students who run Hofstra’s Model United Nations Conference, which brings about 200 local high-school students to campus for three days to learn about global political relations.
In addition, Dr. Fritz supervises students’ honors theses, senior research projects, and internships. “One of the most rewarding things is seeing students get excited with new material and their realization that there are so many issues they can struggle with and eventually, with hard work, explain. And when they realize they can also have a real impact on politics and policy with research, it is doubling rewarding,” he said.
“With both advising undergraduate research and being in the classroom, witnessing the intellectual growth of students over the course of a project or class, or maybe even over the course of several years, is what makes my job so much fun and so incredibly rewarding. Moreover, it continually pushes me to advance my own understanding of politics and political science and continue with my research,” he added.
Students and faculty who nominated Dr. Fritz all mentioned his devotion and high standards that inspire them to do their best:
“I met Dr. Fritz in my junior year and immediately was hooked on his teaching style. He encouraged me to do what I was afraid of, and it showed me that the self-doubt I had was not warranted. I ended up receiving high honors for my thesis, and I truly believe that it was because of his mentorship and attention that I was able to accomplish all I did.”
“Paul is a tireless advisor for Hofstra’s Model United Nations team. He oversees the development of background guides on such diverse topics as human trafficking and White House crisis decision-making, identifies additional research sources for students, develops the conference rules, and oversees every organizational detail of the event. High school teachers and students alike applaud these Hofstra conferences, and Paul’s unwavering dedication is the reason for that praise.”
“He challenges his students to go above and beyond, yet, never fails to provide the tools and encouragement needed in order to succeed. My thesis wouldn’t be half as strong if it weren’t for his knowledge and tireless constructive analysis.”
“He was always respectful of my ideas and encouraged me to develop them further, but also offered constructive criticism when I was wrong. Instead of simply providing me with the right answer, he guided me to find that answer myself. “
“Dr. Fritz’s high expectations regarding quality of research and standards of academic honesty helped me become a better researcher and writer, and his encouragement to consult alternate sources and be more organized in my analysis made me a more critical thinker.”
“Paul Fritz is a gifted teacher who, despite his gift, works tirelessly and conscientiously to improve his craft. When he arrived at Hofstra, he almost immediately distinguished himself as one of the most talented and diligent teachers in a department that prizes good instruction.”
“During his years with us, political science seniors have undertaken more thesis projects with better results than ever before. From his very first year at Hofstra, he has been sought after by the very best students. He has mentored nine of the 32 students who defended (or are defending) honors theses in the department since Spring 2008. Two of his thesis students won high honors, and one of them earned the Undergraduate Library Research Award for his thesis on humanitarian intervention.”
“Dr. Fritz also assisted me through the difficult graduate school selection process. He provided balanced insight as an insider in the field with my particular career goals in mind…As a result, I am on the best possible track for my desired career in international relations.“
Dr. Fritz joined Hofstra in 2007 after serving as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Center for International Studies at the University of Southern California. Before that, he taught at the Ohio State University as a graduate teaching associate and lecturer, where he received the Henry R. Spencer Award for Distinguished Teaching in the Department of Political Science in 2002 and the university-wide Graduate Associate Teaching Award for 2002-2003.
The Mentor of the Year award reaffirms Hofstra’s recognition of advanced undergraduate research and dedicated faculty supervision as part of its commitment to teaching excellence, said Neil H. Donahue, Assistant Provost for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships.
Dr. Fritz will be presented with the Mentor of the Year award at the Celebration of Scholarly Excellence ceremony on Friday, May 13, 2016. Previous winners of this award include global studies and geography professors James Wiley and Kari Jensen, media studies professor Mary Ann Allison and biology professor Justin DiAngelo.