News Release: Arts and Humanities, People, Teaching

May 18,  2009

Stein's Mentorship Reaches Across Time and Distance

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From Emory Report

When Kenneth Stein was in Washington recently for a conference, he contacted 15 former students, stretching back to the early 1980s, and invited them to lunch. "I sat back and listened to them talk about what they had accomplished," he said. "I'll do the same thing with a group of students when I'm in New York this week. Sometimes I'll see a business card being passed.

It can be networking opportunity for the students, or ‘Let's just have lunch with Ken and tell stories.' I do it because it's fun."

Wherever Stein travels in the United States, or even abroad, he's likely to know many people nearby — the bounty of 33 years of teaching at Emory. His interest in the lives of his students past and present helped earn him the 2009 George P. Cuttino Award for Excellence in Mentoring.

Stein has no shortage of accolades: A prolific author, he is also the William E. Schatten Professor of Contemporary Middle Eastern History, Political Science and Israeli Studies, director of the Middle East Research Program and director of the Institute for the Study of Modern Israel — which he founded in 1998.

But the numerous teaching awards he has received over three decades are among his proudest achievements. "The Cuttino Award, to me, is the equivalent of having two major scholarly books published," Stein said. "It's the body of my work. How do you evaluate the contribution you may have made to 4,500 kids? I've had a lot of lunches and dinners and meetings over the years with former students. Maybe that time could have been spent drafting another chapter, but I think it was time well spent. It's important to make time for people, even in a busy world."

As a teacher and a mentor, Stein strives to instill a sense of confidence that goes beyond the walls of a classroom. "Every student needs to be able to make themselves marketable, to set themselves apart from the next person. Your task as a mentor and a teacher is to give them the skills to do that," he said.

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