McGraw receives 2019 Excellence in Academic Advising Award

Amy Duke
September 04, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Ben McGraw, associate professor of turfgrass science, has received the Excellence in Academic Advising Award from Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences for 2019.

Sponsored by the College of Agricultural Sciences Alumni Society, the award recognizes faculty members and staff for overall effectiveness in student advising, individual student goal setting and career planning, and personal counseling. Candidates are recommended by faculty, students, administrators and alumni.

In his current role, McGraw advises 16 undergraduate students in the turfgrass science major, a master’s student in agronomy, and a doctoral student in entomology. He has averaged 11 undergraduate advisees per year since joining the faculty in 2014, and 16 per year over the last three years.

Ben McGraw

Ben McGraw, associate professor of turfgrass science, in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.

IMAGE: Penn State

“Dr. McGraw is the complete package when it comes to advising and student success,” wrote John Kaminski, professor and associate head of the Department of Plant Science, in nominating McGraw. “He is dedicated to each individual and, despite already being a leader in the area, continues to push himself to learn new, state-of-the-art methods and options to enhance their learning.”

McGraw believes in student-specific advising, with an eye toward helping students develop skills through classwork and summer internships, realize their full potential and to acquire employment at top facilities worldwide. This is particularly evident in his internship preparation and independent study classes, during which McGraw assesses students’ technical and academic strengths and weaknesses to develop a plan that will allow them to gain competencies in these areas.

In addition to his advising and teaching duties, McGraw serves as a co-adviser to the Turf Club, acts as a chaperone on club-sponsored trips, and works with executive officers to write internal grants for funding travel to national meetings.

McGraw is the faculty adviser for the Turf Bowl teams that compete nationally against other universities in two national, knowledge-based competitions. Since taking over this role in 2015, his teams took first place in the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America Turf Bowl in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019.

Teams coached by McGraw also were named national champions at the Sports Turf Managers Association Student Challenge in 2015 and 2019 (two-year division) and in 2016 and 2018 (four-year division).

Devon Carroll, a Penn State alumna who holds a bachelor’s degree in turfgrass science and a master’s degree in agronomy, is a former advisee of McGraw’s and a member of the Turf Bowl team. She said his role as an academic adviser “far extends the classroom” and has impacted not only her professional development and career, but that of others.

“As one of very few female students in Penn State’s program and in the industry, I received support and motivation from Dr. McGraw that was important for me in the completion of my undergraduate degree,” she said. “His advising and confidence in my abilities were key factors in my decision to pursue graduate studies. I appreciate all he has done for me and so many of my peers.”

In addition to his academic contributions, McGraw also engages in significant interaction and advising with "green industry" professionals and Penn State alumni practicing within the turfgrass industry through numerous educational presentations and onsite visits throughout the year.

McGraw received a bachelor’s degree in animal science from the University of Maine, a master’s degree in entomology from the University of Massachusetts, and a doctoral degree in entomology from Rutgers University.

He has received numerous accolades during his career, including the 2015 Outstanding Teaching Award, which was presented by the American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America and the Soil Science Society of America.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated September 04, 2019