How can I improve mentoring within my department?

If your are dedicated to reflecting on and enhancing your own mentoring practices, you may also be interested in fostering a culture of mentorship across your department. As the Carnegie Initiative on the Doctorate found in their studies, mentorship and other programmatic expectations of the doctorate are not often assessed, interrogated, and reflected on purposefully in the ways research and undergraduate teaching generally are. And yet, that study and others have demonstrated the importance of discussing and sharing experiences of mentoring for departments, universities, and disciplines. If you are interested in improving your own mentoring and the mentoring practices across your department, you might begin by approaching your department chair or Director of Graduate Studies about your interest. Such leaders in your department have already heard about the increased interest in mentorship expressed by the Provost and Dean of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies at U of L, and will likely support any efforts you initiate towards increasing conversation about mentoring practices within your department.

In addition, the Graduate School is marking the 2012-13 academic year as the "Year of the Mentor." As part of this initiative, SIGS will be hosting events each semester that are dedicated to fostering conversation and exchange about mentoring practices across the disciplines.We will host two focused reading and discussion groups each semester (fall and spring) dedicated to analyzing the changing position of the university in the 21st century, and considering the mentoring practices best suited to preparing new faculty and scholars for their changing futures. These meetings will be offered separately to faculty and graduate students (on similar topics), and both groups will convene each semester for an additional conversation between both faculty and students that discusses the future of mentoring and the university.

If you are interested in participating in these discussions in any way, please email Michelle Rodems (at for more information and to RSVP. We anticipate that these groups will produce very productive insights and ideas about mentoring at U of L that you can report back to your departments. In addition, we plan to produce a "white paper" about the findings of these groups that will be shared with the university community and beyond, and may constitute a valuable scholarly contribution for those scholars who choose to participate in its development.