Dr. Kenneth S. Walters, 2020 Distinguished Teacher Award winner

Dr. Kenneth S. Walters

Dr. Kenneth S. Walters, like many distinguished educators, does much of his best work outside the classroom.

“During the past 11 years, he has mentored 38 research assistants,” wrote Central New Jersey Mensa’s Paul McKee, who nominated Dr. Walters for the award. “All have achieved successful careers. I am proud to be among them.”

Dr. Walters teaches, mentors, and conducts research at Southern Connecticut State University, which he joined in 2012 after seven years in private psychology practice and two prior academic appointments. A Marine-turned-undergrad, McKee brought unique challenges that Dr. Walters converted to familiar successes.

“All I had in which to present my case [as a research assistant] was fellow veteran status, a short fiction story I had written for a class, and my Mensa membership card,” McKee recalls. “These were enough to champion my cause, and I joined his team.”

McKee’s academic flight was then quickly derailed by personal turbulence. “What turned me around and kept me rooted was this mentee-mentor relationship that developed between us,” McKee wrote. “The fact of the matter is that I would not still be pursuing my passion for science, psychology, and an academic career if not for his support and guidance.”

A licensed clinical and forensic psychologist, Dr. Walters is a military veteran and was the first in his family to graduate from college. He earned his Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Nebraska. After several years in clinical practice, he returned to academia in 2012. He becomes the third higher education instructor to win the Mensa Foundation’s Distinguished Teacher Award.

The Mensa Foundation’s Distinguished Teacher Award recognizes a teacher, professor, or instructor at any educational level who has had an especially positive influence on the education or life of a Mensa member.