Both the Mentor’s Letter of Recommendation and the program’s website ( provide information about the program’s history and mission, basic eligibility requirements, and the core selection criteria. You are strongly encouraged to review them as you contemplate agreeing to mentor an applicant over the course of his or her junior and senior years. This document is intended to provide you additional information about your role – the expectations we have for Lumen mentors and the policies concerning compensation for your work. (Note: it is possible to apply as co-mentors of a Lumen Scholar; please see this page for more details.)

Goals for the Mentoring of Lumen Scholars

Given that the selection criteria reflect significant expectations for prize recipients, the role of high quality mentoring is essential.  Young people even of this caliber need close and active mentoring throughout the process.  Mentors (1) provide guidance as the applicant develops the proposal, (2) provide guidance and support as the recipient engages in the proposed program of study, (3) consult with the recipient about possible new directions for inquiry as the work unfolds, and (4) engage the scholar in ongoing reflection about the intellectual/creative process.

Guidelines Concerning Who May Serve as a Lumen Mentor and for How Many Students

We believe that it is only possible to give such high quality mentoring to a limited number of students.  Therefore a mentor can supervise no more than two Lumen Scholars at any given time.  We realize that a Lumen Scholar may also be in one of the several Fellows Programs.  Therefore, mentors may simultaneously be supporting the goals of a Fellows Program and the Lumen Prize program in their work with a given student.  It is of course expected that Lumen mentors also adhere to the policies of all such Fellows programs concerning the maximum number of students that may be supervised at a given time.  Furthermore, typically only full-time faculty or staff holding faculty rank may be Lumen mentors; adjunct and visiting professors are not eligible to serve as mentors. [In exceptional cases, applicants may request that the proposal warrants some other member of the Elon staff on long-term contract serve as mentor; such applications will be fully considered on their merits.]

Mentor Responsibilities

  • Assist applicants in developing an application that sets forth their long-term realistic intellectual/creative plan for the junior and senior years.  This includes (1) helping them develop appropriate disciplinary or inter-disciplinary skills and knowledge; (2) assisting them in finding and using appropriate resources; (3) helping them coordinate the various activities they proposed and holding them accountable for meeting deadlines in a timely manner; (4) guiding them in the work habits necessary for success (planning, flexibility, disciplined work patterns, etc.); (5) encouraging the intellectual exploration and ability to adapt when the project goes in unexpected directions; and, (6) facilitating their ongoing self-reflection throughout the process.
  • Hold regular, substantive meetings with their students during the regular academic year.  [Expectations in the case of additional summer work are discussed later under compensation during summer.]  Typically mentors should meet with their students at least one to two hours each week.  Flexibility is important, of course; there may be times when things are going smoothly or the student is off somewhere doing work or the mentor has a conflict and can’t meet; there will be times when it may necessary to meet even longer or more frequently.  Meetings should be substantive, involving preparation on the parts of both student and mentor.  Mentors should review the student’s progress, address current areas of concern, and provide guidance for subsequent activities.  Sometimes mentors will be working alongside their students – identifying resources, discussing challenging sources, monitoring activities in the lab, watching a rehearsal, etc.  These provide excellent opportunities for helping students understand disciplinary (or interdisciplinary) standards and procedures.
  • Provide feedback that is developmental, extensive, constructive, clear, and prompt.
  • Comply with Lumen Prize expectations, policies, and deadlines, and communicate effectively and in a timely manner with the Lumen Prize director.  In particular, there are start of semester plans [produced jointly with the student] and end-of-semester evaluations of student progress [produced independently].

Mentor Compensation Policies

The preeminent benefit to mentoring a Lumen Scholar is the gratification of working closely with such a student at this critical moment in his or her intellectual and personal journey. Although such a special relationship carries significant intrinsic reward, it is clear that taking on the mentoring of a Lumen Scholar represents a significant commitment of your time and energy. Hence, compensation should be commensurate. The compensation system currently in place is described next.

Compensation for the regular academic year

Compensation reflects the fact that Lumen Scholars are required to enroll in 8 hours of LUM 4998: Thesis Research, under your name, over the course of their junior and senior years.  (If your Lumen Scholar also happens to be an Honors Fellow, he or she will enroll under the HNR 4998: Honors Thesis designation.  The eight hours that the Honors program requires simultaneously fulfills the Lumen requirement.  Your compensation simply comes from the Honors budget line rather than the Lumen budget.)

  • These eight hours may be spaced out in various ways as best suits the student’s overall program of study and should be planned in consultation with you and your schedule realities.  (From the Lumen perspective, enrolling in hours during summer or winter may be a suitable option for your student.  Feel free to discuss that with me.  But please note that if your student is also an Honors Fellow, that program has more restrictive rules about this.)
  • Mentors are compensated on the basis of a 4:1 formula.  Hence, your scholar’s 8 hours of academic credit translates into 2 hours of faculty load credit over the course of the two-year commitment.  Compensation may be taken either as additional pay (disbursed each year in two of your Spring semester paychecks) or as hours banked toward a course release.
  • As with your other research supervision (i.e., HNR 4998 or departmental 4999 hours), the hours you accrue are monitored in the Office of Undergraduate Research.

Compensation during summer

As noted above, your scholar’s required 8 hours may be spaced out in whatever way best fits his or her overall program of studies.  That may at times necessitate summer.  In such instances, the mentoring you provide is considered part of the two faculty load hours worth of compensation that come from working with the student over the full two-year period.  However, in some circumstances, scholars might engage in work during a summer that transcends such “basic” expectations – work that involves a truly intensive scholarly/creative project requiring your close supervision.  [The SURE program provides a useful model for this type of special, intensive experience.]
When such an intensive project is envisioned for the summer, the Scholar is expected to apply for a SURE grant.  If awarded, the mentor will be compensated through the established SURE procedures.  Of course, expectations for both the Scholar and his or her mentor are those set forth in the SURE program.  However, if such an intensive project emerges only after the SURE deadline or if the application for SURE support was unsuccessful, then the Scholar and his or her mentor may consider pursuing the project with Lumen support.  In such cases:

  • The student will be expected to enroll in 1-2 hours of Independent Research.
  • Mentors are expected to meet with the Scholar at least three times a week, with 3-5 hours total face-to-face time per week.  [In exceptional circumstances where the nature of the work means the student and mentor are not both on campus, electronically mediated “face-to-face” time may be outlined in the proposal.]  Mentors should also expect to spend additional time in preparation [e.g., co-reading articles that will be discussed with student] and follow-up [e.g., reviewing student drafts].  Given the significant time commitment involved in effective mentoring, mentors should be limited to no more than two “load units” during the summer.  That is, if a faculty member were already supervising two SURE students or one SURE student and teaching one summer school class, then taking on a Lumen supported project would not be appropriate.
  • Given that the SURE program is an intensive and highly structured program, involving both the individual project and interactions within the “community” of SURE students, a Lumen supported experience is analogous to but not as extensive as a SURE experience. Thus, mentoring shall be compensated in proportion to the existing rate for supervising a SURE fellow.  While an exact amount will be determined in consultation with the Lumen Prize Director, compensation will typically not exceed the $1500-$2000 range.
  • If the Scholar and mentor wish to pursue such an intensive experience with Lumen support, then an application shall be submitted to the Director.  The application will address:
    The nature and scope of the proposed work and how it relates to the core, unifying objective set out in the original Lumen application.  The nature of any culminating “product” shall also be set forth.
    Demonstration shall be provided that the Scholar applied for a SURE grant or, if not, why that was not pursued.  Proposal will also note the number of Independent Research hours in which the student will be enrolled.
    The scholar shall set forth the projected activities involved and the projected timeline, including expected amount of time involved in completion of activities.
    The mentor shall set forth his or her expected responsibilities, including “face-to-face” time and overall time committed to working with Scholar.  The mentor will also indicate if he or she is teaching any summer school courses or supervising any SURE fellows.  Upon the Director’s review and approval of the proposal, the Director and mentor will meet to discuss and establish the amount of compensation the proposed work entails.

Funding for professional development in the mentor role

The Lumen Prize program recognizes that high-quality undergraduate research requires high-quality mentoring, and that mentoring is a professional activity that can be improved by knowledge and skills acquisition as well as sharing best practices with other mentors.  In order to support the professional development of faculty in their roles as mentors, the program will provide up to $1200 per mentor to be used during their two-year tenure as a Lumen Scholar mentor.  These funds can not be used as stipends, but could provide reimbursement for any costs incurred to improve the faculty’s members ability to mentor their Lumen Scholar effectively.  Examples include:

  • travel to conferences, etc., where the primary role of the faculty member is mentor to their Lumen Scholar;
  • travel to workshops designed to develop mentoring skills;
  • organizing a discussion series with other mentors to develop and share best practices;
  • books, equipment, or other materials that will enhance the faculty’s ability to mentor their Lumen Scholar; and
  • other costs directly related to developing skills and knowledge related to mentoring your Lumen Scholar.

The $1200 can be used at any time over the two-year period (that is, if none are used in the first year of the Lumen project, the entirety of the amount can be used in the second year).  Lumen Mentors must receive approval of the Lumen Program director prior to incurring costs to ensure that the costs align with program requirements.

To receive reimbursement, Lumen mentors follow the instructions provided on the Moodle site for Lumen mentors. After receiving the reimbursement for those costs, the mentor may be asked to participate in on-campus mentor development programming.

Mentors of Lumen Scholars are eligible to apply for additional funds available from the Undergraduate Research office to support professional development for mentors.  These funds are competitive and offered on a rolling basis, and mentors of Lumen Scholars may not apply for them until their own funding has been fully utilized.