What is Mentoring?
The word “mentor” comes to us from Homer’s Odyssey. Before leaving for the Trojan War, Odysseus asks his friend Mentor to watch over his household and to counsel and protect his son, Telemachus. Although it is actually the goddess Athena disguised as Mentor who advises the young man, whose father is away for 20 years, it is the mortal whose name has come to stand for a trusted counselor and tutor.
Today, we think of mentors less as teachers than confidants, encouragers, supporters—in a word, friends. Mentors and protégés (or, more recently, mentees) are partners in an extended project of growth, development, and self-discovery. To this collaboration mentors bring wisdom and experience to guide protégés as they navigate unfamiliar territory. Mentees contribute youthful energy, ambition, and new ideas. The result is a mutually gratifying give and take.
In the best of these partnerships the protégé gains a role model, while the mentor experiences rejuvenation and the deep satisfaction, as well as vicarious thrill, of watching a career take off.
Dr. Patrick Scanlon, Chair and Professor
Department of Communication
College of Liberal Arts
Dr. Scanlon is the 2012 recipient of the Provost's Excellence in Faculty Mentoring Award.