Professor receives award from President Obama

President Barack Obama announced John Slaughter, a professor of the Viterbi School of Engineering and the Rossier School of Education, as a recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring last Friday.

The White House bestows the Presidential Award to individuals and organizations to recognize the crucial role that mentoring plays in the academic and personal development of students studying science and engineering — particularly those who belong to groups that are underrepresented in these fields.

“At Rossier, we are committed to creating and maintaining a culture of mentoring and an environment in which all members of the community, students, staff and faculty support each other and foster each other’s success,” Slaughter wrote in a statement to the Daily Trojan. “We believe that the source for mentoring is a sense of caring, caring put into action.”

Slaughter began his career as an electrical engineer. He went on to become president of Occidental College and chancellor at the University of Maryland. He has also served as the first African-American director of the National Science Foundation.

As a joint faculty of engineering and education, Slaughter hopes to increase the participation of underrepresented minorities in the STEM fields.

“John Slaughter is a visionary pioneer of mentoring in engineering and the STEM field in general,” said Yannis Yortsos, the dean of the Viterbi School of Engineering, in an email statement to the Daily Trojan. “We are fortunate to have him at USC and treasure his advice and service.”

Slaughter is involved with the African-American community at Viterbi and hopes to inspire them through mentorship.

“He is also an outstanding role model for all engineering students and professionals, particularly for African-American and underrepresented minorities,” Yortsos further stated.

Karen Gallagher, dean of the Rossier School of Education, described Slaughter as a role model.

“Dr. Slaughter has long been a role model to so many of us in the USC Rossier School of Education, where mentorship is critical to the teacher-student relationship,” said Gallagher in an email to the Daily Trojan.

Along with 13 other recipients from highly respected institutions, Slaughter will receive his award at a White House ceremony later this year. In addition to being honored at the White House, he will receive a monetary award of $10,000 from the National Science Foundation.

“These educators are helping to cultivate America’s future scientists, engineers and mathematicians,” said President Barack Obama in a press release. “They open new worlds to their students, and give them the encouragement they need to learn, discover and innovate. That’s transforming those students’ futures, and our nation’s future, too.”

Throughout his career, Slaughter has been both a pioneer and an advocate for diversity in higher education and in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Gallagher said Slaughter found the intersection between his love for science and mentoring at USC.

“In a career that has been rich in well-deserved plaudits, Dr. Slaughter’s Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring captures the two things at the center of his remarkable career — a love for science and a commitment to nurture that passion in a diverse and always expanding group of students,” Gallagher said in an email to the Daily Trojan.