When a faculty member mentors a student, helping that student grow and develop as a person and professional beyond the confines of any one college course, great things happen.
When a faculty member mentors a student, helping that student grow and develop as a person and professional beyond the confines of any one college course, great things happen. As psychologist Brad Johnson notes in his 2016 book On Being a Mentor, these relationships push students to perform better in school and to complete the degree at higher rates than unmentored students, and students who receive mentorship are happier and clearer in their understanding of themselves as well. And the benefits continue beyond graduation, producing higher rates of success in job searches, professional confidence, better work-life balance, career eminence, income, and more.
And yet, as the Gallup-Purdue Index (GPI) found in 2014, very few college graduates felt that they had been mentored in school. Specifically, only 14% of respondents said that they had worked with at least one professor who had nurtured an excitement in learning, encouraged them to pursue their dreams, and cared about them as a person. In other words, mentoring works, but by and large it isn’t happening.
Luckily, there’s something we can do. GPI’s Brandon Busteed has suggested that institutional efforts to encourage mentorship do, in fact, lead to more mentorship.
With all this in mind, and supported by the generosity of Georgetown’s School of Nursing & Health Studies (NHS) and donors Alida and Christopher Latham, CNDLS and NHS launched the Mentoring Initiative in fall 2017. This initiative took two forms:
In order to bring as many people as possible into a growing conversation on campus about mentoring, we hosted events open to the whole Georgetown community. In fall 2017 Dr. Brad Johnson, professor of psychology in the Department of Leadership, Ethics, and Law at the United States Naval Academy and author of On Being a Mentor: A Guide for Higher Education Faculty and Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women, came to Georgetown to discuss the urgency of mentoring, as well as strategies for doing it successfully in academic environments. We also hosted a visit from Peter Felten, the director of Elon University’s Center for Engaged Learning.
In order to deepen the conversation about mentoring at Georgetown, CNDLS and the NHS partnered to bring together six faculty members and two facilitators to discuss models of mentoring and to identify strategies to explore and encourage mentorship on campus. In the words of CNDLS Senior Scholar Joan Riley (NHS), “It’s inviting each other to talk about what we all think about separately. The cohort gives permission for and facilitates sharing. It helps us help students develop personally and at the same time helps faculty grow and connect to one another.”