Purdue Graduate School News

Dr. Melissa McDaniels, Associate Executive Director of the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Melissa McDaniels, Associate Executive Director of the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

September 14, 2022

Purdue Graduate School Launches Mentoring Improvement Initiative

This fall, the Graduate School is bringing theoretically grounded, evidence-based, and culturally responsive mentorship training opportunities to Purdue faculty, postdocs, and graduate students. This is part of the school’s ongoing Mentorship Improvement Initiative, which launched earlier this year.

“The advisor-advisee relationship is one of the most important factors in regard to success in graduate education,” shared Dr. Melanie Morgan, Associate Dean at Purdue’s Graduate School, “This relationship can impact not only a student’s time in graduate school but early success in their career.”

This 3-year initiative kicked off with the initiation of the Mentoring Fellows Program, which brings together graduate students and faculty to assess the strengths and opportunities for improvement in mentoring relationships within each college. Fellows serve in one-year cycles and receive a small stipend to support their work. This year’s fellows are working to describe the mentoring culture within their college to shape future programming.

“Fellows have conducted surveys and hosted focus groups to better understand the mentoring environment within their respective colleges. In response to what they’ve learned, some fellows have offered specialized mentoring training and created Individual Development Plans for their colleges. Many have also conducted wide-scale reviews of college-level policies pertaining to mentoring,” shared Dr. Morgan, “From this work, our fellows have identified two initial areas of focus for future mentorship programming. First, faculty feel like they don’t receive enough mentoring support. Second, graduate students want both task and psychosocial support from their mentors.”

In addition to the Mentoring Fellowship Program, the Graduate School is hosting mentorship training opportunities led by mentoring professionals, Dr. Melissa McDaniels, Associate Executive Director of the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Dr. Erin Dolan, professor of biochemistry & molecular biology and Georgia Athletic Association Professor of Innovative Science Education at the University of Georgia.

Dr. McDaniels hosted a keynote presentation and two subsequent workshops in early September. Her keynote, which was open to faculty, postdocs, and graduate students, discussed Using the Science of Effective Mentorship to Optimize Faculty-Graduate Student Mentoring Relationships. She also hosted a workshop on Culturally Responsive Mentorship for faculty and postdocs, and a workshop on Activating Your Mentoring Network for graduate students.

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Dr. Melissa McDaniels at her keynote presentation on Using the Science of Effective Mentorship to Optimize Faculty-Graduate Student Mentoring Relationships 

Dr. Erin Dolan, who studies the career development and decision-making of undergraduate and graduate life science students in the context of research experiences and research training, will offer a workshop on problematic mentoring practices in October 2022. In addition to these workshops, the Purdue Writing Lab will host a workshop on Mentoring Graduate Writers and Mentoring and the Dissertation Process, and Graduate School leadership will host Mentoring Dialog sessions to facilitate mentoring discussions in the graduate community.

“Overall, it is our goal to provide the Purdue community with the tools necessary to effectively engage, train, and mentor graduate students to help our students excel both during their time at Purdue and after graduation,” says, Dr. Melanie Morgan. “We believe these training opportunities provide a good bedrock for positive change and look forward to growing this program in the future.”

Source: Dr. Melanie Morgan
Writer: Brittany Ledman