Mentoring will be coordinated through academic departments, with the Dean’s Office serving as a resource for mentors and mentees, primarily through website-based resources related to mentoring and information about trainings. In addition, the Dean’s Office will provide guidelines for minimum levels of mentoring and thresholds for participation. The Office will also coordinate a bi-annual evaluation and a recognition effort. For further details, please see “Responsibilities and Roles for Mentoring Program Administration.” 

Program Guidelines

  • Each department has some flexibility in determining who will be mentored. At minimum, however, all assistant professors with a primary administrative home in a Mailman School department will have a senior faculty member to provide intellectual and career guidance and social support.

  • Incoming faculty will be assigned a mentor by their department head; this assignment will be by mutual consent and will change, if appropriate, as new goals and needs are identified.

  • In some cases (e.g., where a mentee has a joint appointment of close affiliation with a center or institute) a chair may decide to appoint more than one mentor.

  • Typically, a mentor will be a member of the department’s senior faculty. It is recognized that the program must have flexibility to respond to special situations (e.g., when the most appropriate mentor is located outside of the Mailman School).

  • The mentor/mentee pair should agree to a no-fault conclusion of their relationship at either party’s request.

  • Department heads will review mentoring pairs bi-annually and recommend continuation or rotation of a mentee to another senior faculty member.

  • Mentors and mentees should discuss how they wish to handle confidentiality.

  • The mentee should prepare a short list of long and short-term career goals, as well as goals for the mentoring relationship. The mentor should provide regular feedback on this list.

  • The mentee should take primary responsibility for structuring the mentoring relationship and scheduling meetings. 

Frequency of Mentor-Mentee Meetings

All mentor-mentee pairs will have a minimum of one formal mentoring meeting per month. Each of these monthly meetings should review progress toward short term (1 year) goals for career development, as well as progress with respect to goals for the mentoring relationship. Impediments to progress should be identified and there should be active problem solving of how to overcome those impediments. Meetings will also be driven by issues that mentees bring with regard research, teaching, academic networking and facilitation. During these meetings the mentor should provide active feedback, encouragement, constructive (yet supportive) criticism and facilitation. In addition, the mentor should use these meetings to serve as a coach, advocate, career guide and facilitator of networking opportunities.

If the mentor is also able to provide close research mentoring, because the mentor and mentee work on common or related research projects, it is expected that there will be more frequent meetings in a variety of venues (e.g., lab meetings, research team meetings). These additional interactions should provide the opportunity for discussion of funding opportunities, research plans, review of mentee’s grant proposals and articles.

If the mentor is unable to serve as a research mentor to the mentee because of differences in research areas or skills, the department chair, in collaboration with the mentor, will identify other individuals at Columbia who can provide such assistance to the mentee as well as other opportunities to obtain the needed guidance with research and grantsmanship.

Getting Started

Regardless of your prior relationship, ensure that you have generated a list of mentoring and career goals, and that you discuss your hopes and expectations for the mentoring relationship together.This section provides an overview of how to structure a new mentoring relationship between a mentor and mentee who do not know each other.  If you are already in the midst of mentoring meetings, please review the following pages to see what is relevant to you. 

Trainings & Events

Mentors and mentees are encouraged to attend introductions to mentoring at the Mailman School (pairs are welcome to, but need not, attend together). Sessions will cover program guidelines, attributes of positive and negative mentoring, outline the responsibilities of mentors and mentees, and offer guidance on the management of the mentoring relationship. Senior faculty who are experienced mentors will share their experiences and offer guidance on effective mentoring in a panel discussion.

Additional Resources

Please find additional information on the characteristics, skills, and behaviors of successful mentors.

Supplementary Reading

Materials on this site draw heavily from information found in the websites of the University of Wisconsin, the University of California system, University of Michigan, Washington State University, the University of Wisconsin, Johns Hopkins University, the book Faculty Success Through Mentoring, and the work of Dr. Harold Pincus.