Walsh Senior Class Honors Outstanding Educator, Mentor of the Year


School News

The Walsh University senior class of 2016 recently honored Professor Lawrence Mustafaga, Director of RN Completion & Associate Professor of Nursing, as the Outstanding Educator of the Year and Academic Support Center Office Manager Matthew McLain as the Terrance Portis Mentor of the Year.

Sponsored by the Walsh University Student Government (WUSG), the Outstanding Educator of the Year Award is voted on by the Walsh students and given annually to a professor who is a prime example of a true, all-around educator. The recipient of the Mentor of the Year award in nominated by the Walsh senior class for their outstanding guidance, education outside the classroom and significant contributions to their college experience. 

Outstanding Educator of the Year

During the nomination process, students were quoted as saying the following about Professor Mustafaga’s influence beyond the classroom:

"He has affected my experience at Walsh by always making an effort to see how things have been in my life and how my career path is going. He continues to reach out to me and many other students about their endeavors and it amazes me that he constantly puts the Walsh community first. He has supported any decision I have made and has always been an advocate for me and it has helped tremendously through the face of adversity at different times through my journey at Walsh."

With more than 40 years of nursing experience and 35 years as an educator, Prof. Mustafaga has been a member of the Walsh community since 1991. He began his nursing career in Toledo, OH, with a visiting nurse service before he began his teaching career at the Medical College of Ohio in Toledo in 1979, a position he held for 12 years. He earned his master’s degree from the University of Michigan and his BSN degree from Bowling Green State University. During his time at Walsh, Mustafaga was elected chair and served for two years on the Academic Assembly and two years on the Faculty Senate. Beyond the Byers School of Nursing, Prof. Mustafaga has taught GE100 courses for incoming freshmen and has led three healthcare related Global Learning trips to Rome, Italy, in 2010, 2012 and 2015. Among his many accomplishments, Prof. Mustafaga is most proud to have been a part of the foundational years of the Byers School of Nursing, and has played an active role in the evolution and growth of the nursing division to a full-fledged school.

"All I ever wanted to be was a nurse, and then I realized I love to teach. I marvel at my students. I’m inspired by them. One of the really neat things about teaching, if you do this long enough, is that eventually your students will surpass what you’ve been able to accomplish" said Prof. Mustafaga. "Over the years, former students have become my colleagues. I’ve watched them take on leadership positions and today, many are helping to shape the practice of nursing in the field. It’s gratifying to see their success."

Terrance Portis Mentor of the Year

In 2012, Walsh University dedicated the Mentor of the Year Award in memory of recipient Terrance Portis.Terrance Portis '08 passed away on January 25, 2012 at the age of 27. A Walsh University alumnus, Terrance served as the manager of the Academic Resource Center and as one of the advisors for the Black Student Union.  Known for his outreach to all students, Terrance was nominated as the 2011 Mentor of the Year for "constantly communicating with students and encouraging them to better their studies." The Walsh University Student Government and senior class have honored his memory and legacy on campus by formally naming the award as the Terrance Portis Mentor of the Year Award. 

Student nominators described this year’s award recipient Matt McLain as follows:

"I am better at interacting with people different from myself and realizing that everyone has unique gifts and struggles. I hope that I can have the kind of relationships with my future patients as he has had with the students at Walsh." 

Matthew McLain was a close personal friend, neighbor and colleague of Terrance Portis. The two met during Matt’s freshman year at Walsh. They were roommates and worked together in the Academic Support Center before becoming neighbors for the three years proceeding Terrance’s death. Matt earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from Walsh in 2011. In January 2012, Matt stepped in to help out in the Support Center following Terrance’s unexpected death. He joined the Walsh staff full-time as Office Manager in May 2012. 

"Terrance was one of my top three mentors at Walsh. We were close and I learned a lot from him. No matter how different your background was, he could relate to you. He made being good to people look so easy, and he integrated that kindness into his day-to-day life," said Matt. "This group of seniors were freshmen in the fall when I was first hired. That was a tough year for me after Terrance passed away and being able to give back to the students actually helped me get through. I wanted to continue his legacy in any small way that I could. To be honored as a mentor in his name and by this class is especially meaningful to me."