Graduate School Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs Natasha Croom was recently named Mentor of the Year by the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) Institute on Teaching and Mentoring.
The Institute on Teaching and Mentoring is in its 30th year and has become the country’s largest gathering of minority doctoral scholars. The Institute brings national focus to issues of faculty diversity, as well as provides success strategies to minority scholars to help them navigate the rigors of graduate school. All scholars who attended the Institute had the opportunity to nominate their mentor for the award.
Croom was nominated for the award by Tomiko Smalls, a doctoral candidate at Clemson University. Croom and Smalls have been working together since Fall 2020; however, Croom began serving as her dissertation chair in 2018. Smalls spoke of Croom highly in her nomination.
“Dr. Croom fosters my development through student leadership and advocacy,” said Smalls in her nomination letter. “Dr. Croom’s mentorship allowed me to find my self-worth as a student leader and created opportunities for me to use my professional experiences and stories to help foster the development and leadership of other students on campus.”
Small writes, “Through our constant interactions, conversations, work with stakeholders, data diving experiences, review of historical documents, and co-creation of reports, I learned what makes her thrive as a phenomenal researcher, scholar, and mentor. Her actions, words, and feedback enhance my understanding of navigating within and outside the higher education community. Our work furthered my knowledge of how diversity, equity, and inclusion shape educational practices. Most importantly, Dr. Croom’s influence will enable me to become an equity-minded faculty member who will further shape education for students of color.”
Croom is a tenured associate professor of higher education and student affairs in the Department of Educational and Organizational Leadership Development in the College of Education. Prior to her Graduate School role, she served as special advisor to the dean for diversity and inclusive excellence in the College of Education and as program coordinator for the Ph.D. program in educational leadership. Croom earned her Ph.D. in educational leadership in higher education from Iowa State University, her M.S. from Texas A&M University (College Station), and her B.A. Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
The Southern Regional Education Board works with states to improve education, provide policymakers with reliable data to inform sound policies, help states collaborate to share resources and serve educators with training for transformative teaching.