James Madison University

NEW COLLEGES FORMED A plan to reorganize the College of Integrated Science and Technology into two colleges took effect July 1, 2012. The new colleges are the College of Health and Behavioral Studies and the College of Integrated Science and Engineering.

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CS Faculty Member Receives Award

PHOTO: Ramon Mata-ToledoComputer Science Professor Dr. Ramon Mata-Toledo recently received the 1st annual Make Your Next Move Award from Career and Academic Planning.  This student nominated award established in 2012, recognizes a faculty or staff member for their outstanding work helping students move forward with their career goals and plans.  Career and Academic Planning received 86 student nominations of faculty and staff from across the University for this Award.  

Laura Hickerson, Chair of the Job Search Committee in Career and Academic Planning explains, “The criteria for the award were individuals with characteristics such as: passion/enthusiasm, time spent, connections, developing skills and seeing potential in students’ professional growth.  We knew faculty and staff were helping students in these ways, but there was not an award or acknowledgement in place for their efforts. There are awards for advising, teaching, research and service, so we thought there should be an award that celebrates individuals that help students with their post-graduation plans too.  We also wanted to engage faculty and provide an incentive to continue these types of efforts and promote continued engagement.”

When asked about his initial thoughts upon learning of his nomination and selection for the award Mata-Toledo reflected, “I was told that I had been nominated by some students. I was also told that there were 86 nominees. Although I was pleasantly surprised by the nomination I thought the chances of getting it were pretty slim. 1/86 =0.011”

The Job Search Committee read each of the 86 submitted nominations for the award and after creating a rubric with the criteria used a spreadsheet to narrow down the list to their top candidates.  Hickerson described, “It was a tough decision as all the nominations were inspiring and everyone who was nominated was very deserving.  In the end, we decided Dr. Ramon Mata-Toledo should be the winner of the first annual Make Your Next Move Award based on the student nominations he received.”

Even though he was surprised by his selection, Mata-Toledo explained it thusly, “The plaque reads “For your outstanding work for helping students to move forward with their career goals and plans.” I am happy to be the first recipient of this award but in reality this is something that we as professors do day in and day out. Our job is to help students to succeed in their career and give them the best advice we can. Hopefully, what we teach them should not only help them in their careers but also in their personal lives.”

“Ramon is a wonderful professor and mentor to all his students.  He does all he can to help others advance their careers and make the best possible decisions that impact their futures.  He is very humble, was truly surprised by the award.  It was a great pleasure to honor him with this much deserved award. “, says Hickerson.

Looking back over his time at JMU, Mata-Toledo couldn’t pick a favorite memory from working with students.  “There are too many. However, the most rewarding are those associated with students who, years later after graduation, send you messages out of the blue thanking you for helping them succeed in their careers. Maybe it was a trick of the trade or a particular formula that you emphasized that helped them later on to solve a particular problem. The fact that the students remember you fondly is priceless, and as the saying goes, for everything else there is MasterCard. “