Mentoring and Graduate Community

Current Status of Mentoring and Graduate Community Efforts
June 2021 dashboard representing the current implementation status of the committee recommendations on Mentoring and Graduate Community (Click to view and download).

Two Task Forces, one on Graduate Student Well-being and the other on Mentoring and Anti-bullying, were initiated by Dean Laura Carlson at the outset of the 2019-2020 academic year. Dean Carlson invited Prof. Steve Corcelli (Chemistry and Biochemistry) to serve as Chair, and they collaborated on writing the Charge Documents (Appendix A) and identifying students, faculty, and liaisons to serve as members. When constituting the Task Forces, the objective was to invite a diverse group of faculty, graduate students, and administrators to represent stakeholders throughout the University. In particular, the Task Force rosters include graduate students and faculty from the Colleges of Arts and Letters, Engineering, and Science to capture the perspectives of scholars in disparate disciplines.

Personal well-being is a cornerstone of professional success, whether one is at the beginning of their career or well-established in their field. Besides the compelling moral reasons why universities should invest in the well-being of their faculty, staff, and students, the benefits of well-being in terms of increased productivity, creativity, and avoiding burn-out are tangible. Graduate students, in particular, are at a vulnerable point in their career progression where many face significant financial uncertainty, immense academic pressure, and anxiety about their professional future. Moreover, there is mounting evidence that graduate students are confronting increasing levels of anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions.

In graduate training, moreover, the relationship between a student and his or her advisor is formative and, in many cases, can mean the difference between success and failure for the trainee. Academic mentors serve in a variety of roles; they are advisors who share their career experience, tutors who provide timely and objective feedback about performance, supporters who encourage, and sponsors who are sources of information and opportunities. Ultimately, graduate student mentors are powerful role models and play an essential part in shaping the professional identity of the mentee.

The Task Forces adopted 13 recommendations that aim at addressing challenges with graduate student well-being and ensuring a positive graduate education and research climate. Dean of the Graduate School Laura Carlson has accepted all of the Task Force's recommendations. The dashboard indicates the Graduate School's approach and response stage.

Full Report: Mentoring and Anti Bullying Report 10-2020