Magazine article University Business

Mentoring Expands in All Directions: How Colleges and Universities Can Advance Knowledge-Sharing and Skill Development

Magazine article University Business

Mentoring Expands in All Directions: How Colleges and Universities Can Advance Knowledge-Sharing and Skill Development

Article excerpt

Over the past decade, some higher education institutions have introduced the next generation of mentoring practices to expand development opportunities to more of their employees, integrate the these initiatives into existing programs, and offer reverse and lateral learning across campus.

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Consider, for example, Wake Forest University in North Carolina, which launched a mentoring resource center roughly seven years ago. The center's director, Allison E. McWilliams, says she doesn't match people, run any programs, or even maintain a database of mentors and mentees. Instead, she serves as an in-house consultant for department heads and others who want to develop or tweak existing mentoring programs.

"We really manage a centralized office that operates a decentralized model of mentoring," she says. "We work with people around campus, help them plan their program, manage it, find mentors, and match them. Ultimately, someone in each of those departments has to own those programs."

As employees become more entrepreneurial about their career path, mentoring is a critical part of professional growth. But since mentoring programs are high-resource initiatives, not all schools or departments offer them. Still, McWilliams says, schools need to better equip employees to effectively seek out people to serve as mentors.

Up, down and across

Other schools add mentoring opportunities to leadership programs. Since 2011, Pace University in New York has offered a three-tier leadership development program that includes a mentoring component.

Participants in the top tier, who represent the school's leaders, choose a mentor for 18 months from the president's operations committee. Mid-level managers in tier two select a mentor for one year from tier one graduates or the school's management council. Those in tier three--nonmanagerial--pick their mentor for nine months from the tier two graduates.

"We hear from graduates that this is one of the best aspects of the program," says Susan Donahue, Pace's director of organizational learning and development. …

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