SCPS Instructor Mark Erath Honored with Adelle F. Robertson Award

UVA Instructor Mark Erath begins each course by affirming for every student that they will discover how much they already know as they connect their practical, professional and life experiences with “technical” course topics. Erath currently teaches Bachelor of Professional Studies in Health Sciences Management (BPHM) courses for UVA’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies. Much of his contributions to lectures and class discussions stem from his lengthy career, which began over 40 years ago as an auditor, then as an advisor to leading healthcare organizations nationwide with PricewaterhouseCoopers, and later in executive roles at Geisinger Medical Center and Parkland Health and Hospital System.

Most recently, Erath was honored with the Adelle F. Robertson Award, which recognizes a faculty member who has demonstrated sustained excellence in providing new knowledge, instruction or public service to the people, organizations and institutions served by the University. Given annually, this award honors former SCPS Dean Robertson’s career, characterized by commitment to excellence in continuing education and public service. Erath was nominated by his BPHM students for his personal and professional impact.

Erath believes that his own pursuit of an executive MBA late in his career at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville, while also working full time and being a husband and father of four, helps him understand what his students are managing in their personal and professional lives. 

Erath Family at a wedding
Erath's family gathers for his daughter's wedding

Erath’s experience guides his work in higher education on a deeper level as well. He views himself as a coach whose goal is to support his teammates and help them to discover and share their talents. He is grateful for the opportunity to connect with each student and guide them along. “Everyone has different starting points, and I want to help each person believe in themself and their ability to succeed in spite of challenges,” said Erath. “This confidence helps them to grow.”

Students relayed that Erath “was not only a professor but also a friend.” One student shared in her nomination that she entered Erath’s class with high anxiety and low confidence given her historical lack of success in school but said she cried with joy when she received her first A+ grade and underscored the boost it gave her. This first good grade snowballed into something much greater, and she credited her success in school to offering her hope for a brighter future and career.

“I would have never been able to do that without Professor Erath’s professionalism and the way he was able to teach,” she explained. “He helped us relate to the topics in the chapters and made it really fun. He helped me come out of my comfort zone and find that person I was in my 20s who felt that I could do something like this.”

Erath and students at graduation
Erath celebrates with students at their UVA graduation.

Erath models his instruction after professors who impacted his own education. He recalls appreciating a few who came from industry backgrounds and added great relevance to his learning by applying their own experience, teaching through case studies and by blending the academic world with the professional world around them.  

In addition to teaching at SCPS each semester, Erath serves as the Academic Advisor to the cohort of all BPHM students, a faculty advisor to the UVA Honor Committee and mentors  BPHM students during their capstone projects. He is quick to shine the light on the SCPS students he encounters, ranging from those eager to complete their bachelor’s degree to mid- and senior-level leaders with advanced degrees now earning graduate certificates to prepare them for added management responsibility. 

“Because of their clinical backgrounds and work experience, our SCPS students have a high level of emotional maturity,” said Erath. “They are disciplined, smart and motivated. The richness of student talent leads me to serve as an orchestrator of their energy, ideas and insights. I may facilitate a topic, but the experience students bring to the discussions means that they are learning from one another, and I am learning from them as well. They blow me away with the growing practical knowledge they share each week as a team.” 

Erath feels his ultimate mission is to help people be successful on their terms. That means helping them balance their personal, work and school life. Then, continued strategic success entails transferring his experience, passion and enthusiasm to students so that they go on to create their own positive impact in the health field. One student concluded that Erath is “an excellent role model for an instructor who is dedicated to assisting students in comprehending course material, considering their circumstances and enabling them to achieve their full potential.”   

Stephen Levine, SCPS Associate Dean for Academic Programs shared, “The Adelle F. Robertson Award is intended for instructors who demonstrate ‘sustained excellence,’ and Mark has done just this. His genuine concern for students, expertise, collegiality and self-effacing humor has not only enriched the lives of his students, but he has helped make SCPS a great place to work. We are fortunate to have him on our team.”