In each component of the mentoring role, the best mentors know that they are always modeling an idea of the future for their students, providing a living example of what it means to be a responsible, ethical, engaged, and balanced scholar. Graduate students know this, too, and have a deep appreciation for their mentors here at Duke who are also admirable role models. As one faculty member explains, “It’s not enough to provide formal structure and preparation, because there is also a whole lot of acculturation and informal information that has to be communicated to students.”


Ph.D. graduate Irene Liu (center)

Student Perspectives

“Looking back, I believe that she gave her students opportunity to learn everything important for their future careers in different areas. This includes not only experience in doing research, writing and presenting, but also skills in how to interact with other people and to create and maintain a great working environment with mutual respect and sincere interest in everyone’s achievements.”  

"We often sit and discuss strategies for helping students master the material and make it come alive. Sometimes I have questions about how best to respond to students with difficulties, and he always provides thoughtful ideas about how to be an effective teacher.”

“She illustrates that the alleged trade-off between doing research and providing mentoring is overblown. She has a very active research agenda, and yet she also manages to give us graduate students a lot of time.”

“He cares about his students not only in regard to their academic performance, but also their lifelong career goals and the health of their heart and soul. He teaches students the meaning of being an economist, that is, to help and improve society, rather than just an academic pursuit. He teaches us to be honest, responsible, and reliable. In other words, he is not only my professor, he is my role model.”

“He mandates a supportive environment in which lab members are expected and forthrightly requested to help all other members. ... If a lab member is not as skilled, competitive, or socially competent as the rest of the group, he is persistent in pressuring the lab as a group and individually to help this member feel included, and to help advance his or her skills and career.”

— Compiled from nomination letters for winners of the Dean's Award for Excellence in Mentoring