This book, Making Connections: A Handbook for Effective Formal Mentoring Programs in Academia, makes a unique and needed contribution to the mentoring field as it focuses solely on mentoring in academia. This handbook is a collaborative institutional effort between Utah State University’s (USU) Empowering Teaching Open Access Book Series and the Mentoring Institute at the University of New Mexico (UNM). This book is available through (a) an e-book through Pressbooks, (b) a downloadable PDF version on USU’s Open Access Book Series website), and (c) a print version available for purchase on the USU Empower Teaching Open Access page, and on Amazon.
The Purpose of This Handbook
This handbook aims to create a comprehensive resource for those in academia who want to understand how to develop, implement, evaluate, sustain, and fund mentorship at their respective universities. We want the chapters in this book to provide a “one-stop shop” for program coordinators and university leaders wishing to create mentorship programs. Our primary goal in creating this handbook is to help mentoring programs in academia move from an ad hoc culture to one of intentionality and effectiveness. This handbook’s chapters provide a retrospective and prospective overview of the mentoring field. The audience for this book is practitioners, university leaders, and researchers, with a primary focus on novice program coordinators. We selected the chapter authors because of their national reputations in specific content areas or previous scholarship. Our challenge to the authors was to write their chapter in a way that takes complex ideas or processes and makes them relatable to a novice program coordinator or university leader. For example, entire university courses and professional workshops cover topics in this book, such as conducting a needs assessment, theoretical frameworks, research methodology, or program evaluation. Recognizing that many of our authors write in a formal style consistent with academic journals, we asked them to write as if they were speaking to a room full of novice program coordinators and university leaders who wanted to know more about mentorship for their university. Thus, many authors employ a conversational writing style.
Organization of Handbook
This book has four parts. Part I contains four chapters that position the reader to understand the origins and evolution of the mentoring arena in academia. Part II includes 11 chapters designed to help practitioners, researchers, and university leadership design, implement, evaluate, and fund effective mentoring programs. Part III provides four case studies on undergraduate students as mentees, two on graduate students as mentees, three for mentoring faculty, and two on mentoring university staff. Each case study used an outline we created to address as many components of the mentoring process as possible. Finally, Part IV, which focuses on future directions of mentoring in academia, has a chapter and case study devoted to networked approaches. These networked approaches show great promise for maximizing mentorship in universities. We begin each of the book’s four parts with an introduction section. The book ends with conclusions and four recommendations.
How to Read This Handbook
Generally speaking, most people do not read handbooks from beginning to end. Instead, they skim the table of contents and read the chapters most salient to their interests. We anticipate the same for this book. However, we have specific recommendations for novice program coordinators trying to orient themselves to this large and complex discipline of mentorship, especially as it applies to mentorship in academia. University leaders will also find this content helpful in understanding the processes and resources needed to create and sustain an effective mentoring program. For the novice reader for whom this book is primarily intended, we recommend starting with Christiansen’s and Busenbark’s s chapter 7, specifically Figure 7.1. This figure summarizes the crucial role and responsibilities of the mentoring program coordinator. In summarizing these responsibilities, Christiansen and Busenbark give an overview of the handbook and reference corresponding chapters that address specific content areas in more depth.
After Chapter 7, we recommend focusing on the case studies in Chapters 16, 17, 18, 19, and 20. As you read these case studies, ask yourself questions such as: What is the operational definition? What theories are driving this program? What is the program’s mentoring structure or typology? How were mentors and mentees matched? How was the program evaluated? What were program outcomes reported? How was the program funded, and how will it be sustained?
After reading Chapter 7 and reviewing the 12 case studies, we encourage the reader to review the table of contents and the introductions to Parts I, II, and IV. These introductions give a summary of each corresponding chapter. Next, we advise reading the abstract of each chapter. By following these suggestions, we anticipate the reader will become aware of what they do and do not know regarding mentorship in academia and which chapters to delve into depending on their needs and priorities.
A Note from the Editors Regarding University Culture
When university leaders support a formal mentoring program at their respective universities, they hope to increase engagement, resulting in a prioritized outcome, such as higher retention rates for undergraduate students or improving tenure-achievement rates for faculty of color. University leaders must understand that cultural change takes time, often years. Changing culture does not happen overnight. It usually takes a few years to achieve the cultural change needed for a formal mentoring program to function as intended.