Broadly defined, a mentor is someone who takes a special interest in helping another person develop professionally. An effective mentoring relationship is characterized by mutual respect, trust, understanding, and empathy.

In its 1995 publication "A Conversation About Mentoring: Trends and Models," the Council of Graduate Schools cites Morris Zelditch's summary of a mentor's multiple roles:

"Mentors are advisors, people with career experience willing to share their knowledge; supporters, people who give emotional and moral encouragement; tutors, people who give specific feedback on one's performance; masters, in the sense of employers to whom one is apprenticed; sponsors, sources of information about and aid in obtaining opportunities; models, of identity, of the kind of person one should be to be an academic."

The intent of the Graduate College Outstanding Mentor Award is to reward excellence in a wide variety of mentoring functions.

Nominees must have taught at the University of Iowa for at least 5 years and have mentored at least 3 doctoral students through completion of the Ph.D.

The following criteria are intended as general guidelines for the Award Committee.

Excellent research guidance

  • Thesis or dissertation direction
  • Guidance on non-thesis research
  • Assistance in developing conference papers and publishable works

General assistance to graduate students

  • General coursework advising
  • Advocacy and conflict resolution

Impact on students individually, and as a group

  • Providing opportunities for students to present their work outside of class
  • Supporting student attendance at professional meetings
  • Nurturing and supporting students from underrepresented groups and nontraditional students
  • Organizing and participating in programs to orient new graduate students

Preparation for career decision making and advancement

  • Development of professional preparation materials
  • Organization of professional preparation workshops
  • Individual job search advising
  • Preparation of students for job interviews
  • Support of student progress/development after graduation.