Purpose of the Award

There is widespread agreement within the academic community that mentoring is an important element of graduate education. First, providing adequate mentoring support for graduate students is a key factor in ensuring that they are well trained in their disciplines, successfully complete their degrees, and have good career opportunities. Second, students who have mentoring relationships are more productive, more involved in their departments, and more satisfied with their programs. Third, whether acquiring a fresh perspective in a particular field or gaining a reputation for identifying and developing top-notch talent, mentors receive immeasurable benefits from the mentoring relationship. The benefits of mentoring are passed on as good mentors promote a tradition of mentoring practices in their students.

The Duke University Graduate School created the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring to recognize the considerable efforts and accomplishments of faculty who consistently serve as effective mentors. Designed to allow graduate students to identify faculty who embody both the letter and spirit of mentoring, this award contributes to the university’s continuing efforts to cultivate a culture of mentoring.

Award Criteria

  • Promotes successful completion of students’ research and degree programs by monitoring progress and offering honest, constructive feedback when needed or sought
  • Commits to advancing students’ long-term professional development—throughout their journey from student to professional—by recognizing and making potential colleagues aware of their natural talents and acquired skills and by integrating students into the broader culture of the discipline
  • Ensures that students master the content and skills of their discipline, including the ability to teach or present that content to professional and non-professional audiences
  • Creates a supportive environment for research and scholarship by fostering mutual respect and demonstrating sincere and active interest in the well-being of the student
  • Maintains accessibility by providing consistently open lines of communication
  • Connects students with the resources necessary to take full advantage of academic and professional opportunities and enables students by helping them to develop their own local and national networks
  • Models a solid record of scholarship marked by excellence in research and teaching skills, research presentation and publication, the ability to obtain funding, and the exercise and nurturing of good mentoring practices
  • Exercises discernment in directing students to appropriate resources and shows a willingness to work collaboratively with other faculty in multiple-mentoring relationships
  • Actively supports the academic and personal success of students who are of color, female, LGBTQ, first-generation degree-holders or non-native speakers of English—especially in fields in which those students are underrepresented. Additionally, we seek to recognize those mentors who promote an inclusive and diverse environment.