What exactly do students mean when they say they need a mentor? Perhaps they need someone who is concerned about them and how they fit into their wider discipline; a professor to talk to about issues in their field that lie beyond their research topic; someone who is willing to teach them about what it means to be a professional in their field; someone who cares enough about them that they are willing to help open doors leading to funding or future job opportunities.
Still, we know that all students' needs are not the same. Because students come from different walks of life and have different needs, effective mentoring is not equal mentoring but equitable mentoring. Just as effective teachers tailor lessons to the learning needs of a diverse community of students, so, too, do skilled mentors appropriately tailor guidance strategies to the goals and circumstances of individual protégés.
Mentoring, like all of our academic and professional activities, takes place in historical, social, and political contexts that influence our institutional culture. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is comprised of a diverse graduate student body that includes groups of students who have been historically underrepresented or marginalized in higher education and, as a result, face some unique sets of challenges in graduate school.
The Office of Graduate Studies acknowledges this fact in its commitment to identify, pursue, and encourage strategies that enhance success, diversity, and multiculturalism in all facets of graduate education.