Frances M. Leslie DECADE Mentor Excellence Award
Former Graduate Division Dean Frances Leslie had a vision years ago to create the DECADE mentor program. Since its inception, over 115 faculty members have served in this role, committing to diversity, equity, and inclusion – and to ensuring an inclusive environment for graduate success.
Beginning in 2019, the Office of Inclusive Excellence solicited nominations from across campus for the DECADE Mentor Excellence Award, and has named this award after the woman whose vision made this all possible: Former Graduate Dean Frances Leslie.
Frances M. Leslie DECADE Mentor Excellence Awardee: Alessandra Pantano
Alessandra Pantano is a Professor of Teaching and a Diverse Educational Community and Doctoral Experience (DECADE) mentor in the Department of Mathematics at UCI. She also serves as Assistant Vice Chair for Undergraduate Studies and was appointed as an Inclusive Excellence Professor for faculty development in 2021-2022. Her original training in Unitary Representation Theory evolved over the years towards mathematics education. Specifically, she examines and advances active learning and culturally responsive pedagogy, both in the classroom and in after-school settings. Additionally, she has strived to engage students through strong mentoring and the promotion of diversity and inclusion in education at all levels. As a DECADE Mentor, she has developed several initiatives aimed at improving climate within the math graduate program, and supporting the professional development and the wellbeing of graduate students. She holds an M.S. in mathematics from the University of Tor Vergata in Rome, Italy, and a Ph.D. in mathematics from Princeton University. She was a visiting scholar at MIT and a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell University (H.C. Wang assistant professor). Professor Pantano is a passionate and dedicated instructor. Beyond teaching and research, her efforts have included the creation and development of three outreach programs: the UCI Math Circle, the UCI Math Community Educational Outreach program (Math CEO), and the Math ExpLR program.