UC Davis faculty member speaking with two mentees

Graduate Mentoring Initiative Welcomes New Faculty in Winter

Graduate Mentoring Initiative Logo. UC Davis Graduate Studies

Supporting Graduate Student Success Through Mentorship 

Having a strong mentor can be a life-changing experience. Positive mentor-mentee relationships have shown to increase academic persistence, productivity and satisfaction in graduate student mentees. Additionally, mentorship can help increase overall graduate student well-being. Students with mentors report feeling less imposter syndrome, anxiety, and depression. 

To address the critical role mentorship plays in graduate student success and well-being, Graduate Studies launched the Graduate Mentoring Initiative (GMI). Now in its first year, GMI is a quarterly initiative designed to foster an engaged culture of faculty-graduate student mentoring across all academic disciplines. 

“Not only do mentors play an essential role in supporting academic endeavors, but they can help improve access and opportunities for students, particularly those from historically marginalized groups,” said Elizabeth Sturdy, Director of Mentoring and Academic Success Initiatives at Graduate Studies. “Positive mentoring relationships enrich the academic and professional experiences of mentors and mentees alike and foster a collaborative culture for our campus.”

Fostering a Community of Faculty Mentors

At UC Davis, faculty mentors guide graduate students on their academic and professional growth and support them in finding resources to meet their personal needs and goals. The GMI provides an opportunity for faculty to learn best practices and explore fundamental components of successful mentoring relationships. 

Through a series of six cohort-based sessions, faculty explore strategies for aligning expectations, effective communications, and promoting mentee research and work-life balance. The program highlights the unique needs of each student and encourages tailoring mentoring styles based on a mentee’s background, preferred communication style, and career goals. 

“The [GMI] program reinforced the kind of core values that I've held regarding my mentoring approach, said Kevin Gee, Associate Professor, Education. “It has equipped me with concrete tools and strategies to further improve the way I communicate with my mentees, as well as enhance their sense of self-efficacy.” 

The GMI program also features a session on creating a  mentoring philosophy, where faculty will use their insights from the program to articulate their approach to mentoring. This written philosophy can be used to build stronger relationships with mentees and set expectations for mentoring interactions. 

“The workshop forced me to think more critically about my mentoring philosophy and to develop tools for matching my philosophy to my actions,” said Corrie Decker, Associate Professor, History. 

The GMI was developed in consultation with an advisory board of faculty, graduate students, and staff. After a successful pilot program, GMI welcomed 20 faculty members to its fall program, which began in October 2021. 

Each GMI session is led by a UC Davis faculty facilitator, or mentor fellow, who leads discussions on promising practices, helpful tools, and ways to grow and develop as mentors. All of the mentor fellows have been recognized as outstanding mentors within their graduate programs and serve as leaders in mentoring for the campus. 

“Graduate Studies investment in mentoring represents one of the most essential components to graduate student retention and well-being,” said Sturdy. “We are excited to now have a campus-wide program that brings faculty together to discuss their mentoring experiences and practices to further promote a positive culture of graduate mentoring for UC Davis.”

Apply for GMI’s Winter Session

Registration is now open for the Winter GMI Program, which will begin on January 25, 2022. Registration for GMI will be open on a first-come basis and limited to 20 participants. Applicants will be notified once they are accepted into the program. Visit the GMI webpage for more details on eligibility, cohort size, and to learn more. 

Visit the mentoring initiatives website to learn more about innovative mentorship practices at UC Davis Graduate Studies. 


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