Marie Mora receives Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring

by | Aug 4, 2020

The awards were given during a virtual ceremony Monday afternoon from the White House and administered by the National Science Foundation.
Marie Mora

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Marie Mora was one of 11 individual recipients of Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Marie Mora has risen steadily through the ranks of higher education during the past 25 years, becoming a full professor by the age of 36, and later serving as a program director, associate vice provost and associate provost.

This spring, she was named provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Missouri–St. Louis.

Along the way, Mora has invested significant time into helping and encouraging students and others during their own career climbs.

On Monday, she was honored for her efforts when she joined 11 other individual recipients of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring.

The awards were given during a virtual ceremony Monday afternoon from the White House and administered by the National Science Foundation. More than 100 K-12 STEM educators from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and U.S. territories were also honored with Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching as part of the event.

“It’s a tremendous honor – and a humbling one – to be recognized along with these other inspiring mentors,” Mora said. “This recognition also confirms my fundamental belief in how one person can make a difference to improve lives, especially when we reach positions to be able to help others achieve the goals they set for themselves. I have devoted a significant part of my career to increase diversity, access and inclusion in the economics profession, in other STEM fields, and in higher education more broadly.”

The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring were first created in 1995 to recognize the critical role mentors play outside the traditional classroom setting in the academic and professional development of the future STEM workforce.

Mentors support learners from kindergarten through the collegiate levels, as well as those who recently started their careers in STEM, by sharing their expertise and guidance, sometimes through formal mentoring programs. They have a demonstrated impact on individuals historically underrepresented in STEM.

Until last month, Mora served as the director of the American Economic Association Mentoring Program, funded by the National Science Foundation, since 2013. She also has been chair of the American Economic Association’s Committee on the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession and is a founding member and past president of the American Society of Hispanic Economists.

She was the founding chair of the Women’s Faculty Network at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and the co-founder of its Chancellor’s Network for Women’s Leadership as part of the University of Texas System.

Since coming to UMSL in July 2019, Mora has been the driving force behind the creation of the Women’s Faculty Network and an Associate-to-Full initiative to help midcareer professors take the next step in their careers.

“Dr. Mora has substantially impacted the lives and careers of many scientists, including economists and other social scientists, for nearly a quarter of a century as a scholar, teacher, administrator, public intellectual and mentor,” wrote Darrick Hamilton, a professor of economics and sociology at The Ohio State University, in a letter nominating Mora for the award. “It is evident that her work is a labor of love and outstanding. She goes far beyond obligation and what is expected of faculty members.”

Hamilton first met Mora more than 15 years ago at a conference at Duke University, and in 2008, she became one of his official mentors in the NSF-funded Diversity Initiative for Tenure in Economics. The program is designed to help untenured assistant professors in economics from diverse backgrounds be successful in attaining tenure.

He credits Mora with playing a critical role in his professional development, providing him with insights and advice as well as careful readings of and critical comments about his research papers.

With Mora’s encouragement, Hamilton achieved tenure, later became a full professor and today serves as the executive director of Ohio State’s Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race & Ethnicity.

He is just one of the many Mora has aided in their professional growth and advancement.

Mora’s reputation for scholarship is well established in the field of economics. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of New Mexico and a PhD from Texas A&M University. During the past 15 years, she received $3 million in external research funding as a principal investigator or co-PI.

She has also co-authored two books and numerous refereed journal articles on Hispanic socioeconomic outcomes, and has been named one of the “75 Top Economics Influencers to Follow” by FocusEconomics.

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Steve Walentik

Steve Walentik