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Linking Academics and Athletics

Maintaining excellence in academics and athletics has always been a matter of pride at Lafayette and a trademark of its student-athletes.

While a majority of the credit deservingly goes to the student-athletes, part belongs to an ever-strengthening asset that is the faculty mentor program.

While the exact definition of a faculty mentor is hard to pinpoint even for the mentors themselves, the benefits of having one around are easy to recognize.

Admittedly not an academic mentor or advisor, Dr. Alan Childs, Professor and Head of Psychology and faculty mentor for the men's basketball team, labels himself as an "unobtrusive presence" with the team.

Men's basketball coach Fran O'Hanlon appreciates Childs' work, and describes his relationship with the team as being very positive.

"We have a lot of trust in Dr. Childs, and he knows what it is to be a student-athlete at Lafayette." O'Hanlon said. "Dr. Childs has been around our program and I know that he has the best interests of Lafayette and our players in mind."

Childs has enjoyed lending a helping hand as much as he has benefited from his role on a personal level.

"What I hope is that the players come to know me as someone who cares about them as individuals." Childs said. He also admits, "One of the biggest rewards is the friendship I have kept with many players long after they have graduated."

Elaine Reynolds, assistant professor of biology and program chair of neuroscience, enjoys mentoring basketball players Kristin Doherty '06 (left) and Colleen Fitzpatrick '04.

"The mission of the faculty mentor program is to strengthen and reinforce the ties between a student's academic and athletic pursuits and act as a resource for the student-athletes, coaches, administrators and other professors," explained Bruce McCutcheon, Lafayette's Director of Athletics. "The link that the mentors provide between these groups assists in identifying the available resources so that individual student-athletes may receive the appropriate counsel and advice to resolve specific academic and social issues."

As Childs, O'Hanlon and the men's basketball program have enjoyed a successful relationship over time, third-year women's basketball head coach Tammy Smith and the newest and faculty mentor, assistant professor of Biology Elaine Reynolds are eager to get things started.

"Professor Reynolds is going to do a lot of good things for our program," Smith said. "Some of our past players have had her as a professor, and I am excited for her to meet with our players before the season starts."

Like O'Hanlon does with Childs, Smith will also use Reynolds in a recruiting capacity.

"I will not hesitate to have Professor Reynolds talk to a recruit about the challenges of academics and athletics at Lafayette," Smith said.

Professor Reynolds shares Smith's enthusiasm, and respects the commitment of student-athletes at Lafayette.

"I have enjoyed having student-athletes in the classroom because they tend to be disciplined about their studies," Reynolds said.

Reynolds went on to commend coach Smith for, "recognizing the importance of supporting and integrating these two components (academics and athletics) of her players lives."

Reynolds words are shared by every faculty mentor and resonate around College Hill as Lafayette continues to celebrate its student-athlete's victories on the field, commend their successes off it, and give them the best overall resources to succeed.

- By Michael Leflar