Published on 06/04/20

UGA Professor Cesar Escalante honored for excellence in mentoring

By Maria M. Lameiras

University of Georgia Professor Cesar Escalante has been selected to receive the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA) Mentoring Award.

Escalante joined the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences in 2001 as an assistant professor after receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He was promoted to associate professor in 2007 and then to professor in July 2015.

AAEA is the premier national academic and professional organization in the field of agricultural economics. Its mentoring award, new this year, recognizes association members who have systematically shown consistent, outstanding efforts in fostering junior, female and/or minority colleagues.

In particular, AAEA recognizes efforts to recruit and retain talented individuals from diverse backgrounds; co-authorship and/or other collaboration that provides major learning opportunities for junior, female and/or minority colleagues; and active advocacy for the professional advancement of these colleagues.

Escalante was recognized for his mentoring work with his minority graduate student advisees. He mentors his students throughout their tenure at the university and often continues to advise them after they have left the university to pursue their careers in industry and academia.

“Receiving this award from a prestigious organization, such as the AAEA, is truly flattering and humbling. I am very grateful for this commendation, given not just by the AAEA, but initiated and supported by several of my current and former graduate student advisees,” Escalante said. “The desire to forge productive collaborations with my students has always been driven by my past experiences as a minority graduate student myself. I would not have reached this point in my career without several faculty members who believed in my potential — even when others did not value them well — and mentored me to the best of their abilities. When I see potential in my advisees, I instantly make a promise to help develop them to the fullest and guide my students in reaching their goals during and beyond their tenure at the university.”

Escalante was nominated for the AAEA Mentoring Award by Luis Peña-Lévano, a 2012 graduate of the CAES agricultural and applied economics master's degree program. Peña-Lévano is currently a faculty lecturer in the Food and Resource Economics Department at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, and at the Plant City, Florida, location.

“During his tenure at UGA, Dr. Escalante has contributed significantly to the retention and successful performance of minority graduate students in his home department and other related units,” Peña-Lévano said. “His effective, open-door, personal mentoring approach has encouraged many minority students to develop greater self-confidence, draw greater respect from peers and produce many accomplishments, in addition to the successful completion of their academic programs.”

His collaborations were not limited to the graduate students for whom he served as major professor and thesis-dissertation research advisor. He also conducted research and published with other students and engaged them in extracurricular activities that reaped awards at conferences and competitions.

For his research, mentorship and service, Escalante has earned numerous awards during his career, including the 2019 First-Year Odyssey Teaching Award and the CAES Faculty Diversity Award. He received the Outstanding Faculty Member award from the Graduate Student Association of the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics three times. Most recently, he was awarded the 2020 President’s Fulfilling the Dream Award and 2020 CAES Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award.

For more about the AAEA Mentoring Award, visit To connect with faculty in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, see

Maria M. Lameiras is a managing editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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