The hosts of NetVUE’s Callings podcast, Erin VanLaningham and John Barton, sit down for a conversation with Richard Sévère in the latest episode. Richard is professor of English and interim associate dean at Valparaiso University, where he also directs the Bloom Scholars Program, a program that prepares students academically, socially, and culturally for college, especially first-generation and underprepared students. In this episode, Richard shares how purposefully connecting with colleagues and students to hear their stories can allow a sense of difference to inform vocational discernment.Continue reading
Victor Frankenstein is the most irritating protagonist I’ve ever met. Yet I love teaching Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein and exploring the questions it raises, questions not only of what Victor creates but the process by which he creates it. Shelley’s Victor Frankenstein is no doctor, but a college student who deals with a predictable college student issue: keeping in touch with home. As he fails to visit or even write to his family, he remembers his father’s words: “I know that while you are pleased with yourself, you will think of us with affection and we shall hear regularly from you. You must pardon me if I regard any interruption in your correspondence as a proof that your other duties are equally neglected.”
“Is his father right?” I ask my students. Is failing to write really a sign that he’s neglecting his other duties? His work is what’s keeping him from writing. Isn’t his research also a duty, deserving focus? Is it even possible to do his kind of work and do other things, like keeping up his family relationships, at the same time?Continue reading
The results of a new poll show that faculty members play a primary role when it comes to mentoring most students. The new study was conducted by Strada Education Network and Gallup, drawing from a survey of over 5,100 U.S. college graduates in 2018. Among the key findings includes this fact:
Professors are the predominant source of undergraduate mentorship. Nearly two-thirds of recent graduates who agree or strongly agree that they had a mentor during college say that mentor was a professor (64%).
However, important caveats to that also came to light, revealing disparities in the experiences among students, depending upon ethnicity and background:
First-generation college student (FGCS) and minority graduates who had a mentor are less likely than their counterparts to identify their mentor as a professor, though professors still remain the primary source of mentorship for both groups. While nearly three-quarters of white graduates say their mentor was a professor (72%), less than half of minority graduates say the same (47%). Two-thirds of non-FGCS graduates say their mentor was a professor, compared with 61% of FGCS graduates.
Who is doing the mentoring?
Graduates’ professor mentors were most likely to come from an arts and humanities field: 43% of those who had a professor mentor during college say their mentor taught a subject in arts and humanities, followed by science and engineering professors (28%), social sciences professors (20%), and business professors (9%).
We know from previous surveys that a close relationship with a mentor was one of the strongest factors related to engagement and well-being after graduation. According to the 2014 study:
The three most potent elements linked to long-term success for college grads relate to emotional support: feeling that they had a professor who made them excited about learning, that the professors at their alma mater cared about them as a person, and that they had a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams. If graduates strongly agree with these three things, it doubles the odds they are engaged in their work and thriving in their overall well-being.
So what might these new results mean for institutions that are committed to fostering a culture of vocational discernment for their students? Some initial thoughts:
- Colleges and universities should think carefully about where vocation programs are housed on campus.
- Given the prominent role that faculty play in mentoring for many(but not all) students, they might use their influence to encourage students to seek out mentoring from other sources as well.
- We cannot assume that faculty-to-student mentoring is occurring; we should not assume that all students are getting the support they need.
- We must diversify the faculty if we care about mentoring all of our students.
For a short summation of the findings of the poll, see this week’s Chronicle coverage – the article includes helpful graphics to convey some of the key points. Insider Higher Ed has an even briefer “quick take” on the survey. To download the full report, see the 2018 Strada Gallup Alumni Survey.