Michal Grinstein-Weiss, director of the Social Policy Institute, and Dan Ferris, director of policy and planning at the Social Policy Institute, were selected out of nearly 100 nominations as recipients of the 2020 Washington University Outstanding Faculty Mentor and Staff Mentor Awards. Awarded by the university’s Graduate Student Senate, students from all of WashU’s schools nominated mentors who positively impacted their graduate student experience.
Ferris oversees the education and training initiatives at the Social Policy Institute, and also serves as assistant dean for policy initiatives at the Brown School. As part of his ongoing research, operational, and policy leadership, Ferris leads an evaluation program at the Social Policy Institute aimed at addressing food insecurity in St. Louis and beyond. Ferris was nominated by Samuel Hsu, a 2020 graduate of the Master of Public Health program at the Brown School and former research assistant at SPI where he worked with Ferris on food insecurity-related initiatives.
“[Ferris] has displayed consistent concern for my professional interests and looked for opportunities to further my development through manuscript writing, meeting management, and conferences,” Hsu says. In his nomination, Hsu added, “Working at the Social Policy Institute is enjoyable because of its supportive environment and meaningful projects, and Dan plays no small part in fostering such an atmosphere. I have learned a lot from his ability to meet challenges with positivity and grace. [Ferris] is generous in offering encouragement to his advisees and encourages feedback by taking student opinions with seriousness.”
Grinstein-Weiss was nominated by Brinda Gupta, a 2020 graduate of the Master of Business Administration program at the Olin Business School. Gupta serves as a project manager at the Social Policy Institute and works closely with Grinstein-Weiss.
“[Grinstein-Weiss] has single-handedly had the biggest impact on my scholarly and professional development, and life overall, since I joined Washington University,” Gupta says. “After seeing Michal’s magnetic energy and never-ending faith in me, I have become more self-assured. This has helped me build trusting relationships in business school, adapt quickly to new team cultures, and become a utility player where I am confident and dedicated to improving the performance of any team regardless of the role I am asked to play.” Gupta added, “The hardest part about graduating from Washington University will be that I will not see Michal on a daily basis anymore.”
The Graduate Student Senate represents graduate students in both master and doctoral programs at Washington University in St. Louis. Formally established in 1993, the senate’s mission is to represent and advocate for the interests of graduate students. More information about the annual award and previous recipients can be found here.