Calvin speaking

Duke UCEM co-PI Calvin Howell (left) speaking with Sloan Scholars during a 2018 workshop about persistence in graduate school

As reported by The Chronicle of Higher Education and the Ph.D. Completion Project, mentoring is crucial to graduate student success. We at the Duke UCEM share this view and have developed a number of resources to address students’ mentoring needs. We will design the Duke UCEM with mentoring as a centerpiece of the Sloan Scholars’ experience at Duke.

Studies have recommended multiple mentoring as a key to combating common issues in graduate education. Having multiple mentors is also crucial given that Ph.D. students’ success depend in part on integration into their research groups and self-organized student groups. Both types of groups work best when members openly share what they do and do not know, because they are rewarded with the group’s reciprocal collective positive response. Students, however, often must cross unspoken social barriers to get the most out of these groups. To help Scholars overcome those barriers, the Duke UCEM will connect them with multiple mentors and sustain those relationships. UCEM mentoring support will be layered over the duration and various dimensions of the graduate-student experience.

UCEM mentoring structure

To help Sloan Scholars get the mentoring they need, the Duke UCEM structures its efforts around two main aims:

  1. Providing opportunities for Scholars to connect with faculty and peer mentors
  2. Training faculty to provide effective mentoring for URM students

For the Sloan Scholars, the Duke UCEM:

  • Uses The Graduate School’s Mentoring Toolkit as a foundational component for mentoring workshops for faculty champions and Sloan Scholars.
  • Enlists faculty champions from each UCEM department to facilitate a mentoring workshop for Scholars during Early Start (described in the Academic Support pillar) to provide a foundation and set of common expectations for students and faculty.
  • Organizes a series of activities throughout the academic year to help Sloan Scholars maintain a network of multiple mentors, including talks by faculty champions and lunches with TGS staff and faculty champions.
  • Provides conference travel funds to students who wish to attend the national Sloan mentoring conference (in addition to funds to support travel to research conferences), allowing them to connect with the larger STEM community.

To help faculty serve as effective mentors for URM students, the Duke UCEM:

  • Holds workshops to orient faculty champions to their roles and to help them, directors of graduate studies, and other faculty members gain insights into dealing with issues in mentoring, such as implicit bias. As appropriate, these events will be open to the broader Duke community as part of our effort to make Duke a more supportive environment for URM students.
  • Provides each faculty champion with seed funds for organizing departmental gatherings twice each semester to cultivate a culture of multiple mentors at the departmental level. These gatherings may include existing department events or new informal opportunities to nurture departmental community.

The Duke UCEM also offers a Graduate Administrative Internship. The intern will serve as part of the mentoring infrastructure by helping to organize mentoring events and holding check-ins with each Sloan Scholar.

Regular Check-Ins

As part of the support for Sloan Scholars, Duke UCEM staff members hold regular check-ins with cohorts of Scholars to discuss topics relevant to their particular stage of study. Each cohort meets with a designated staff member. | Cohort advisers and check-in topics (PDF)