Putting a limit on knowledge and doing the bare minimum has never been anything Dr. Shahdad Naghshpour has aspired himself to do – or expected of anyone else.
Instead, he is what others may consider an over-achiever, or a man of many talents, and these traits have led to Naghshpour being named The University of Southern Mississippi’s 2016 Mentor of the Year and the 2016 Research Fellow for the Academy of Economics and Finance.
A professor of international development at the University’s Gulf Park campus, Naghshpour has been recognized numerous times for his research and academic achievements throughout his 30 years at the University. However, being named 2016 Mentor of the Year during the 2016 Dr. Susan A. Siltanen Graduate Student Research Symposium in Hattiesburg, came as a surprise to him as a surprise.
“I am really humbled. Delighted to be honest,” said Naghshpour. “I had no idea my students meant to seek me for this recognition.”
In the Department of Political Science, International Development and International Affairs, Naghshpour currently serves on six dissertation committees and chairs 15 doctoral students, which is the largest number of cohorts in his department. Specializing in statistics, Naghshpour is one professor many students seek out for his expertise.
Associate Professor Dr. Joseph St. Marie stated that Naghshpour “is everything a colleague should be,” declaring “he spends a great deal of time making sure students’ research is top notch.”
“I teach people because I get joy in watching people learn,” said Naghshpour. “The thing is to have a closer relationship than just student/faculty. They look up to me, so I take their hand and make them shine in the discipline.”
According to students, working with Naghshpour is not an easy task, and it can be very difficult at times – especially when they are ready to give up and throw in the towel. Nevertheless, each student understands that the professor challenges them for a reason, and they appreciate him even more for that extra push.
“He is a good mentor, in part, because he maintains high standards for what he expects from students,” said Madeline Messick, international development doctoral candidate. “Because he maintains high standards, I know that my dissertation topic will stand up to scrutiny and be credible.”
Referring to himself as “difficult and demanding,” Naghshpour confirms that he does not bend the rules for any of his students. It is his way of motivating them to reach their full potential, not only in academia, but also in the professional realm.
“Dr. N has strongly encouraged our cohort to go beyond the school’s necessary course structure and be involved in the Academy of Economics and Finance,” said international development doctoral student Hugh Davis, III. “A number of us have become members and participate regularly in the academy’s programs. His example of leadership in AEF has influenced us not to be just participants, rather to assume service and responsibility roles, also.”
As vice president of the Academy of Economics and Finance, Naghshpour has now taken on a new title as the 2016 Research Fellow for the Academy of Economics and Finance, which is bestowed upon distinguished members of the academy in acknowledgment of their lifelong research achievements. According to Naghshpour, this recognition is the highest achievement awarded in the academy.
“This award is for lifetime achievement for the whole career. One does not get it until they become senior faculty and have an accumulation of publications,” he said. “I have over 70 publications and an eighth book coming out at the end of April.”
Although it appears Naghshpour is a very busy man, his love for learning and his passion for mentorship continues to burn brightly.
“It is a lot of devotion and caring. That little gleam of joy when they understand is my appreciation,” he said. “The joy I’m getting to influence people’s minds, to achieve things, is a very personal reward.”
Next winter, Naghshpour will also stand as the University’s nominee for the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools Mentor of the Year Award. This award acknowledges and honors a person who has enjoyed outstanding success in mentoring graduate students in the Southern Region.