Jozsef Vigh recently became the Director of the Graduate Center for Inclusive Mentoring, based at Colorado State University Graduate School.
“For me, it’s like being asked for the first time to drive a car that I’ve enjoyed driving,” Vigh said. “Very exciting and a bit scary, but looking forward to the journey ahead.”
GCIM provides leadership for faculty-led mentoring efforts and works to drive undergraduate and postdoctoral success through community building.
Vigh received his PhD in Neurobiology in Hungary. He has been part of the Department of Biomedical Sciences since 2007 and supervises undergraduate and graduate students.
Vigh and Graduate School Associate Dean Colleen Webb have worked together to achieve some monumental GCIM goals. The center has released a new set of resources and programs that have had a measurable impact on the community.
GCIM supports successful grant applications
One way to support mentoring is to help find scholarships. GCIM has developed and published mentoring plan templates to support faculty in their mentoring journeys. Several faculty have used the scholarship templates to successfully secure grants and develop personalized plans for their mentees.
Chemistry Assistant Professor Joseph Zadrozny recently used the GCIM Grant Mentoring Plan template to apply for the National Science Foundation’s Alliances for Graduate Education and funding for the Professoriate program. Zadrozny used the template to create a mentoring plan with specific resources and programs. This plan will guide Zadrozny as he works on the proposed research with his PhD student, Roxanna Martinez. The grant covers Martinez’s grant.
“I have a really hard time writing proposals like this because I often have many, many thoughts, many, many things that I want to say. I’m looking forward to everyone,” said Zadrozny. “Taking those thoughts, putting them on paper or formulating them in a way that would make a convincing argument for someone to give me money to pay people is always a big obstacle, and so it’s extremely useful to have one.” Having a template to take the puree idea gathering and turn it into something that is both readable and compelling.”
Zadrozny and Martinez study the magnetic properties of molecules.
“One of the long-term applications that this fundamental information will help us to is in developing new types of magnetic resonance imaging tools that allow you to sense environmental chemistry,” Zadrozny said. “MRI is really good at creating anatomical maps of the body. Imagine if we had an anatomical map and then a chemistry map overlaid on top. It would be transformative for diagnostics.”
Mentors develop new skills through Mentor Well Training
“Navigating graduate school is a big task for any student,” Vigh said. “Good mentoring can make it a little easier, while a lack of mentoring or bad mentoring can easily derail PhD students’ careers. Think of the mentor as a guide: not only do the good guys know their way through the forest, but they know some other paths as well. The good recognize the traits, strengths, weaknesses and needs of the followers and are able to adjust the path accordingly to complete the journey.”
The Mentor Well program provides training to help faculty grow as leaders. Each session offered under the program has exceeded its capacity with a waiting list. GCIM’s goal is to equip mentors with the expertise and resources needed to help mentees meet their goals and expectations.
“It’s about mentor well, it’s about the well-being of the student, not only on an academic level but also on a personal level,” said associate professor Svetlana Olbina from the Department of Construction Management.
The Mentor Well program supports mentoring through the lens of professional and personal well-being.
“We know how to do science. We know how to write texts. Hopefully we know how to write grant applications, but we don’t necessarily always know how to help our students be the best possible people,” said Nancy Levinger, professor in the chemistry department. “And I think that’s really come to light for me during the pandemic.
Through the Mentor Well program, educators receive formalized mentoring through a lens of equity and inclusion to best support the success of graduate students and postdocs. Some of the training topics include promoting mental health, promoting independence, effective communication and balancing expectations. Mentors conclude the program with a capstone project to expand their mentoring philosophy.
Participants who complete the full series will receive a GCIM Mentor Well Certificate. Faculty training is developed from the curriculum of the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research.
Get involved in GCIM
Faculty members and staff can also find offer letter templates, reports to help them make data-driven policy decisions, and other resources GCIM.
Graduate and postdoctoral researchers are encouraged to participate in the center’s monthly Mentor Monday Discussions to share effective mentoring relationships and their critical role in the CSU community. Mentor Monday Discussions provide a networking opportunity to meet people from across the university.
“The mentor assemblies are very nice because I meet students who are not from my area,” says Levinger, “and I can listen to what topics they are dealing with and then think about how that applies back to what I do .”
GCIM plans to continue building on resources to support inclusive practices across campus, including a new set of resources to support a holistic credential review.
“These resources will help faculty and admissions committees review graduate applications using best practices to ensure fairness in the admissions process,” said Mary Stromberger, Dean of the Graduate School.
On April 4 at 12:00 p.m., GCIM will host a virtual guest speaker, Karen Butler-Purry. Sign up is required for the event.
Butler Purry is the Graduate Dean at Texas A&M. Butler-Purry holds a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Texas and a doctorate in electrical engineering from Howard University. Butler-Purry recently received the Debra Stewart Award for Outstanding Leadership in Graduate Education from the Council of Graduate Schools.