Many people worry that the University’s unique tradition of close student-faculty friendships is fading. Why? The University has grown, as have class sizes. Faculty experience pressures to publish or perish, develop stimulating classes, and serve the University in various administrative capacities. Moreover, fewer current faculty members attended the University as students and are simply unaware of the tradition and their role in it.

For this reason, a group of alumni have created a program that encourages faculty to become more actively involved with students and student life.

Each year the Mead Endowment invites about a dozen faculty members to become Mead Honored Faculty. Deans handpick participants for their outstanding potential to become a friend of, and mentor to, students and an example for other faculty. Faculty submit their Dream Ideas that they believe will nurture their relationships with students and help them walk in the footsteps of Boots.

The first step in the journey for Mead Honored Faculty begins at the start of the academic year with an inspirational Rotunda dinner in their honor intended to encourage the honored faculty to make the most of their award. During the course of the evening, honored faculty hear from faculty honored in the previous academic year about the outcomes of their Dream Ideas, from alumni offering testaments of the impact Mr. Mead had on their lives, and from students whose University experiences have been enriched by projects funded by the Mead Endowment. Faculty also hear from Mr. Mead who regularly reminds all present that is not just the students who have learned from him, but he who has learned from them and together they have discovered life’s themes among its variations.

Over the course of the year, the honored faculty remain in touch with the Mead Endowment, providing updates about their Dream Ideas until they return to the Rotunda the following year to share with the next cohort of honored faculty the impacts the Dream Ideas had on them, their students, and the greater community.