To us, a culture of mentoring is one in which mentoring goes both ways vertically—up and down from mentor to mentee and back again, as well as laterally, across groups. The mentor creates an atmosphere of supportive learning and trial-and-error for the mentee, with the goal of creating the next generation of excellent teachers and scientists. If the culture and the mentoring experience is working, then the mentee is also mentoring the mentor—sharing new ideas, challenging old ones, and crossing the divide from a traditional mentor-mentee relationship to one of collaboration.
Our Institute and Division values these exchanges tremendously. We feel it shows in the willingness of faculty to help more junior faculty, the willingness of students and fellows to mentor those more junior than themselves, and in the creation of teams that approach a common problem together. We believe that a culture of mentoring not only yields the next best generation of teachers and scientists, but also makes current teachers and scientists better academic citizens.
– Submitted by Mary Ann Pentz, Ph.D.