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 Tuesday, August 24, 2004 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


Mentoring: A Prescription for Success

Here at CU-Boulder, we place significant value on mentoring students and it is important that we mentor each other as faculty and staff as well. Undoubtedly, having more experienced people provide advice and support to foster the progress of those with less experience benefits individuals, departments and the entire campus community.

The concept of mentoring to enhance professional preparation dates back to Ancient Greece. In Homer's Odyssey, Mentor was the teacher entrusted by Odysseus to tutor his son, Telemachus. This mythological epic provided an image of the wise and patient counselor serving to shape and guide the lives of younger colleagues. The term "mentoring" became synonymous with wisdom, guardianship, teaching, and personal and social development.

As noted in a report from the National College for School Leadership, mentoring is an educational relationship in which there is mutual trust, respect and valuing. There are opportunities to share, reflect on and learn from experiences in a nonjudgmental way; independence and autonomy are encouraged; there are clear limits and boundaries; and there are opportunities to explore alternative views and options.

We each can benefit from the mentoring process, either as a mentor or as one being mentored. Mentoring usually involves coaching and encouraging, offering constructive feedback, explaining, listening and guiding. The most common feature of mentoring is a one-to-one relationship. However, group mentoring — one mentor to a group of people — also produces positive results, raising confidence and levels of achievement among participants.

A variety of mentoring programs is available on campus for students, faculty and staff. Numerous opportunities exist for students in the schools and colleges, and within departmental programs campuswide, to help them identify academic, career or personal development goals and develop realistic action plans to achieve those goals. There are also many unsung heroes in offices across campus who make a difference in students' lives by listening and offering advice.

Many academic departments offer mentoring arrangements for new faculty. Some department chairs assign senior faculty members to each new faculty member when they arrive on campus. Other departments have a mentoring committee that has responsibility for guiding and providing feedback to junior faculty within their unit. Junior faculty also may be directed to the Office of Faculty Affairs, the Faculty Teaching Excellence Program and the Faculty Ombuds Program for mentoring assistance.

The Office of Diversity and Equity, the Chancellor's Committee on Women and the CU Women's Network, among others, support mentoring opportunities for diverse faculty and staff. In addition, the Office of Organizational and Employee Development offers a variety of educational programs to help staff find information and advice on professional growth and leadership development. The Faculty and Staff Assistance Program also provides support to employees for personal or work-related concerns that may interfere with job performance.

You, our faculty, staff and students, are the most important resource in our university. We all must continue to learn and support one another to continually improve and to be successful in achieving our aspirations. Mentoring is an important way to provide support for the well being of all in our community. My thanks to all of you for your mentoring efforts, official and informal, and I urge you to continue your fine work in the year ahead.

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From the Chancellor

Mentoring: A Prescription for Success

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