UCM adds faculty mentoring component to success advising model

Written by Katlin Younts

The University of Central Missouri is adding a campuswide faculty mentoring program to engage students beyond the classroom.

Ken Schueller, director of Success Advising, said the idea is to customize a faculty mentorship program with each school on campus.

Schueller said this provost-initiated program started in January by first meeting with school chairs and program coordinators to learn how they would prefer to pair students with faculty members. He said Google Forms were shared with each program coordinator, and the completed forms are still trickling in. Schueller said some students can see their updated success teams in MyCentral with faculty mentors listed alongside their academic advisors, and the goal is for every student to have their success team updated by the end of the semester.

The faculty mentor initiative is the second phase in the reorganization of advising on campus. The first phase took place in the fall of 2018 when UCM’s advising offices relocated to the bottom floor of the Elliott Student Union to create a new Success Advising Center. This is where all students can meet with their advisors in one location.

Karen Goos, interim vice provost for Enrollment Management, said she is excited about the new mentoring program because it gives students the opportunity to reach out to more people for help.

“When we started redesigning our advising, we had to find ways to engage students with faculty,” Goos said. “We have found research that shows those who need to connect with faculty aren’t the ones that seek it out for themselves.”

Goos said the faculty mentoring program will be a great way to build a relationship between the faculty and the students.

Instead of meeting with academic advisors all of the time, students now have the opportunity to meet with paired faculty in their area of study to get the specific answers they need on how they can succeed in their degree.

“I can tell you how you can be successful as a student, but I don’t have a Ph.D. in your chosen major,” Schueller said. “That is why we want to develop those faculty-student relationships.”

He said they hope to increase faculty-student interactions and engagements beyond the classroom and strengthen the partnership between success advisors and faculty.

Paula Brant, senior academic success advisor, said she has been researching faculty mentoring. She pointed to an article in the February issue of “Inside Higher ED” that said having a mentor more than doubles a graduate’s odds of being engaged in their work and thriving in their life.

“If we can start developing those relationships early, it will help them overall by the time they are a senior,” Brant said.

In a separate initiative Schueller and Goos said they also want to start focusing on first-year students and improving the programs on campus to facilitate their transition into college.

“Part of the first-year experience will hopefully be scrapped and rewritten,” Schueller said. “There is no standardization for the university foundations class. You might have a class one way, but you may go back to your dorm and another foundations class is completely different.”

Schueller said developing a better first-year experience for students is the next thing they plan to address.

“We are working on the first-year initiatives as part of our Title III grant we received,” Goos said. “We are just beginning to meet regarding these changes and will work each year to see improvements over the next five years.”