EECS Professor Perry Alexander is the first recipient of the new Outstanding Advisor Award from the KU Honors Program. The award recognizes a faculty advisor who demonstrates support to students, while at the same time challenging them.
Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little presented Dr. Alexander with the award at the Honor Program’s Teaching and Advising Awards Ceremony on Nov. 14.
Stacie Burnett, a sophomore in architecture, nominated Dr. Alexander for the award. As an honors student, Burnett can select her advisor from faculty across the university. She chose Dr. Alexander for his affable, supportive nature.
“I think what makes him such a great advisor is how genuine he is in his interactions with students,” says Burnett. “Everything Dr. Alexander says and does is authentic and caring. It is clear he wants the best for his students and wants to see them succeed.”
She gives the example of a discussion from an honors class last spring. Dr. Alexander asked each of the students to share what they were planning on doing after graduation. As they went around the room explaining their goals, Burnett said he listened intently to everyone, asking questions and offering feedback.
“It was a simple act, but that kind of interest and caring for students is irreplaceable,” Burnett said. “It makes a world of difference to know you have an advisor who is behind you and cares about your success and the success of all of his students.”
Dr. Alexander has advised Evan Austin, a Ph.D. student in computer science, since he was an undergraduate. Austin says Dr. Alexander does a remarkable job of tailoring his interactions with each student.
Once when Austin and his lab mates were discussing their typical meetings with Dr. Alexander, they realized he used a different advising technique with each of them. Whether it was encouragement, direction, or a challenge, Dr. Alexander found what each of them needed to be inspired, said Austin.
“Whenever I go to Perry’s office to talk about work, we end up talking about music, sports, or politics instead. Yet in the middle of these conversations, he always finds some way to sneak in perfectly apt pieces of advice, such that I tend to leave his office with my problem solved and a new piece of KU basketball trivia in my brain,” says Austin.
In addition to advising for the Honors Program, Dr. Alexander teaches a freshman honors tutorial that introduces students to research at the university. Dr. Alexander teaches EECS courses in programming languages and semantics, digital systems design, and software engineering. He serves as director of KU’s Information and Telecommunication Technology Center.