Mentoring Opportunities at Iowa State University

By Krista Klocke, Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching

January is National Mentoring Month, which means this is the perfect time to reflect on how mentors have made a positive impact on your life and career, and inform how you can be a mentor to someone else. Whether formally or informally, mentors make campus feel smaller and more personal by showing care and support through conversations and professional development activities. Both CELT and Iowa State University offer a variety of mentoring opportunities across the “lifespan” of academia. Read on for some highlights!

Mentoring Undergraduates

Besides the mentoring that takes place in academic advising and in interactions between instructors and students, there are other programs that connect undergraduates with faculty members who help them expand their academic horizons:

  • Iowa State Learning Communities, facilitated by Director Jen Leptien, involves more than 90% of first-year students through more than 85 learning communities across campus.
  • The Undergraduate Research Program, led by Coordinator Svitlana Zbarska, manages the research programs that create research opportunities for undergraduate students across campus.

Mentoring Graduate Students

Mentoring continues with support for graduate students in their development as academics. These programs range from university-wide (Preparing Future Faculty and Graduate College Emerging Leaders Academy) to departmental (Ann Gansemer-Topf’s approach to mentoring her graduate students):

  • Preparing Future Faculty, facilitated by Clark Coffman and Karen Menzel through the Graduate College, provides a framework of professional development courses and mentoring for graduate students preparing to begin their careers.
  • Graduate College Emerging Leaders Academy, facilitated by Faculty Fellow Steve Freeman, creates opportunities for graduate students to develop leadership skills and interdisciplinary connections.
  • Mentoring also takes place on the individual level. Ann Gansemer-Topf, Director of Graduate Education and Professor, School of Education, takes a hands-on approach to mentoring her graduate students. Gansemer-Topf explains, “I meet with graduate students who I advise as a group every two weeks. The space is used to provide advisor-student and peer-to-peer support and mentoring … this space affords them the opportunity to learn from one another. It can serve as an accountability group to keep students on track to complete research. Additionally, students not only get mentoring from the advisor and a student, but they also learn how to mentor. The best experiences are watching “new” students transition from the mentee to the mentors.”

Faculty (Peer-to-Peer)

A wide variety of opportunities are also available for peer-to-peer faculty mentoring at Iowa State University.

  • CELT’s Teaching Partners Program, led by Instructor Development Coordinator Krista Klocke, pairs experienced faculty mentors with second- or third-year faculty. Meeting throughout the academic year, mentor teams discuss effective teaching practices, observe each other’s classrooms, and prepare materials to document their teaching.
  • CELT’s Faculty Learning Communities provide a space to build connections across disciplines, share strategies for teaching large enrollment courses more effectively, and connect instructors with resources. Read about the Large Enrollment Faculty Learning Community here, and the Fundamentals of Teaching Faculty Learning Community here.
  • The College Peer Mentors program, coordinated by Tera Jordan, Assistant Provost for Faculty Success, works with mentors who are appointed by their college to create networking opportunities and support for faculty.
  • The Emerging Leaders Academy, led by Administrative Director Katherine Hensley, Tera Jordan, and Faculty Co-lead Brad Dell, develops faculty and professional and scientific staff leadership skills, preparing them for leadership positions.

Creating Connections through Community

At its core, mentoring is about creating connections. The value of connections is central to Peter Felton and Leo Lambert’s book Relationship-Rich Education, free as a digital download from Parks Library.