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Landers named recipient of DII SAAC faculty mentor award

St. Michael’s psychology professor is also faculty athletic representative on campus

David Landers

David Landers, the faculty athletic representative at St. Michael’s College in Vermont, has been named the recipient of the 2014 NCAA Division II National Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Dr. Dave Pariser Faculty Mentor Award.

Landers will receive the award Jan. 15, during the Division II Faculty Athletics Representatives reception at the 2015 NCAA Convention in National Harbor, Maryland.

The award is named after Pariser, a physical therapy professor at Bellarmine University who passed away in 2013. It honors faculty members at Division II schools for their dedicated support and mentorship of student-athletes, and for demonstrating the same commitment to Division II student-athletes’ lifelong learning, competition, and well-being.

“In Division II, many student-athletes are fortunate to have faculty members serving as mentors,” said Division II SAAC Chair Spencer Dodd of St. Martin’s University. “Dr. Landers is an example of someone who consistently goes above and beyond to ensure the student-athlete experience is a balance of high athletics competition, academic excellence and personal growth as a college student.”  

 Landers has worked at St. Michael’s for 32 years and is in his eighth year as the school’s FAR. Before being appointed FAR, Landers said he didn’t know much about the position. He was a fast learner and quickly developed a strategy to integrate athletics and academics on the St. Michael’s campus.

“The first of my two goals was to help the faculty better understand that our student-athletes are just that: student-athletes,” said Landers, who teaches psychology and gender studies. “I tried to dispel the myths that athletes are just dumb jocks.”

His other goal was to get the student-athletes to communicate more effectively with their professors by introducing themselves and sharing their schedules with the faculty in case any time conflicts arose.

“I try to get the student-athletes to ask faculty to come to their games,” Landers said. “This shows the student-athletes that the faculty care about what happens to them outside the classroom.”

Landers, an avid photographer who photographs many of St. Michael’s home contests, is particularly proud of the athletic department’s Academic Success Rate. In 2011, St. Michael’s ranked first in the country with a 99-percent ASR. St. Michael’s ASR is currently at 98 percent.

“That comes about with collaboration between the faculty, the coaches, the student-athletes, athletic administrators and academic administrators,” said Landers, whose expertise is in the fields of bullying, LGBTQ issues, academic achievement and gender transition from high School to college, sexual assault and date rape issues and alcohol and drug issues. “All of this is done with the strong support from the president.”

St. Michael’s has 21 varsity sports and the teams have an accumulative grade-point average of 3.111. Only seven of the teams are below 3.0, the goal set for every team to reach.

“I get credit for a lot of this, but it is really about what everyone on campus is doing,” Landers said. “We have faculty liaisons for each team. It is another resource for our student-athletes.  Each team already has academic mentors and faculty they can turn to within different departments. But they also have this other person who probably goes to their games or a practice. It is another level of support for our student-athletes, which is what we’re all about.”

Landers was also influential in the Saint Michael's SAAC contribution to the “It Gets Better Project” in 2011, challenging the student-athlete leaders to complete a video as part of a cause responding to the suicides of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered youths who had been bullied. According to the It Gets Better Project website, the cause was created to show young LGBT people the levels of happiness, potential and positivity their lives will reach once they get through their teen years.