Adopt and consistently apply a common definition of mentoring relationships that offers clarity about what constitutes a mentoring relationship within a continuum of other meaningful relationships in a supportive, relationship-rich context.
The following definition was generated out of an extensive review of extant theory and scholarly research, further refined through interviews and surveys conducted with the Elon community, and iteratively tested and revised in response to extensive feedback. Mentoring relationships are fundamentally developmental and learner-centered. Within Elon’s relationship-rich campus environment, mentoring relationships are distinct from other meaningful relationships in that they:
promote academic, social, personal, cultural, and career-focused learning and development in intentional, sustained, and integrative ways;
evolve over time, becoming more reciprocal and mutually beneficial; and
are individualized, attending to mentees’ developing strengths and shifting needs, mentors’ expertise, and all members’ identities.
Although mentoring sometimes is conceptualized as a one-to-one hierarchical relationship, mentoring relationships function within a broader set of relationships known as a mentoring constellation. The number and nature of specific relationships within these mentoring constellations vary across individuals, time, and contexts, with different mentors and peer mentors offering varied forms of support and expertise. As a result, mentors play significant roles serving one or more mentoring functions, though few mentors will serve all mentoring functions. Make the mentoring constellation model a signature component of students’ Elon education and ensure students have multiple pathways to identify and develop mentoring relationships, with attention to building agency and capacity across all years.
High-quality mentoring demands multiple guided opportunities for reflection across all years, from the first-year experiences, such as Core courses, through advanced and culminating experiences, such as capstones and signature work. Based on recent task force reports and extensive research in the literature and on our campus, we know that we must attend particularly to the needs of our students with minoritized identities so that they are not only succeeding but also thriving.
Develop context-specific professional development for students, staff, faculty, alumni, and other participants in Elon’s mentoring initiatives, to support the integration or deepening of mentoring relationships within a constellation framework.
This recommendation represents a significant need identified by all members of our campus community in our research.
Develop a centralized infrastructure with significant resources to facilitate, support, and promote the University’s curricular and co-curricular mentoring initiatives, basing the design, delivery, and assessment of specific programs on the mentoring relationships definition and the accompanying mentoring constellation model.
In the same way that high-quality teaching is supported by an ecosystem of campus-wide resources, mentoring must also be threaded throughout our campus and be the work of all departments.