Maureen Vandermaas-Peeler honored with Ward Mentoring Award

A professor, mentor and friend to hundreds of Elon students, psychology professor Maureen Vandermaas-Peeler has been named the 2011 Ward Family Excellence in Mentoring Award recipient.

“Since arriving at Elon, Maureen’s professional identity has been associated with undergraduate research,” say colleagues from different departments across campus. “She has so clearly been a major campus leader in the mentoring of undergraduate research, she is perhaps the most outstanding model of a research mentor that we have.”

Vandermaas-Peeler received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wake Forest University and her master’s and doctoral degrees in developmental psychology from North Carolina State University. In her 16 years at Elon, she has published more than a dozen research articles in academic journals with undergraduate students, made many conference presentations with students as co-authors and sponsored students presenting research at more than 100 local, regional and national conferences and meetings.

She has taught several Honors courses and since 2008 has served as director of the Honors Program, a position that allows her to support and encourage some of the brightest students at Elon. She also is a consulting editor for the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology.

In her research lab, Vandermaas-Peeler consistently includes students in her research, particularly in the area of early childhood development, her main area of interest, though she doesn’t hesitate to get out of her comfort zone to support students in their own endeavors.

“Students who participate in Vandermaas-Peeler’s research projects are not merely assistants,” colleagues say. “They are given appropriate amounts of ownership regarding the types of questions asked, methods used and data analyzed.”

Says a former student, “Maureen Vandermaas-Peeler provided me with the perfect balance of challenge and support. She allowed me to find my own way and make mistakes, but also taught me valuable lessons about how to do good research and ask good questions.”

As a mentor, she always is accessible to her students to offer academic and personal support whenever needed, even after graduation. She has been instrumental in helping many students successfully continue their academic careers and achieve their professional goals.

“Maureen Vandermaas-Peeler was an active and integral part of my Elon experience and she continues to be an integral part of my graduate school experience as well,” says a 2009 alumna who is currently pursuing a doctoral degree at Auburn University. “We have worked together on two publications and plan to begin a third one this summer… Beyond supporting my professional development, she continues to provide advice regarding the graduate school experience.

“If she could have continued into graduate school as my mentor, I would have her with me at Auburn today.”

Vandermaas-Peeler is the fourth recipient of the award, which honors a faculty or staff member who demonstrates a commitment to Elon undergraduates through outstanding mentoring. The award was established by Tom and Beth Ward P ’05, ’08, ’14, their sons, A.T. ’05, Christopher ’08 and Chase ’14, and Tom Ward’s mother, Dorothy Mears Ward GP ’05, ’08, ’14.