The University Record, May 24, 1993

Needed: faculty and staff mentors for new students

By Mary Jo Frank

Faculty and staff from all academic and career fields are being recruited to serve as mentors through the University Mentorship Program.

Volunteering as a mentor is a “unqiue opportunity to build a relationship with three or four first-year U-M students while helping them to explore their academic and career interests,” says Director Pennie Reed.

The goal of the program, piloted last year, is to help students learn how to enter complex new systems and provide them with the support and encouragement they need to be successful at the U-M.

Reed says since it is a new program, “we’ve had to learn as we go.” The structure of the program is changing as a result of feedback from first-year students and from faculty, staff and upperclass students who served as mentors. More than 1,100 first-year students participated in the Mentorship Program last year.

All first-year students will be invited to sign up this year. Incoming students who apply and are accepted will be matched by academic and/or career interests with a volunteer faculty or staff mentor, a volunteer peer undergraduate mentor and three other first-year students.

Last year 105 faculty and 90 staff were paired with 196 upper division students; each pair worked with five or six first-year students.

Sophomores will serve as co-mentors with a faculty or staff person for the first time this fall.

“We learned that the type of mentoring you need in the first year is very different from what you will need in the sophomore and junior year. We believe that a sophomore, who has just been through the first year, can provide the most valuable assistance to a new first-year student,” Reed says.

Because mentoring is a two-way relationship, both mentors and mentees have responsibilities to each other. Mentees, who will be making a one-year commitment, will be asked to attend a two-hour orientation session prior to the start of fall classes, respect the time and effort of their mentors, keep scheduled meetings and phone appointments, notify mentors and the Mentorship Program office of changes in address or phone numbers, and evaluate the program.

Mentors will be asked to contact their mentees prior to the students’ arrival on campus, meet them before classes begin and then once a month.

The 1993–94 program will include two new pilot groups: sophomore transfer students in LS&A and Mentorship Program participants from last year who want to continue in their sophomore year.

Students participating in the Mentorship Program, according to Reed, benefit from:

n Access to the Program Resource Network, a list of contacts in academic areas and University services who provide advice and assistance to mentors as needed on behalf of their mentees. Faculty and staff who do not have time to be a mentor this year can volunteer to be part of the Program Resource Network.

n Early exposure to University-related services such as MIRLYN (the University Library’s on-line catalogue) and MTS.

n Specialized information sessions for students who are interested in pre-med, engineering and business.

n Opportunity to learn how mentoring relationships can work later in one’s career. To volunteer as a mentor or for information, contact Reed through e-mail or call 764-6413.