Faculty Receive Training in Mentorship Program

August 29, 2011

Faculty Mentorship Program

Eight faculty members from the College of Health and Human Development received a better understanding of the pedagogy and practice of becoming an effective faculty mentor to Latino students through comprehensive training led by CSUN Mentorship Program Coordinator, Glenn Omatsu.

“According to one CSUN official, Jose Luis Vargas, the single most important factor determining a student’s success on our campus is their capacity to find mentors,” said Omatsu. “This is especially important for those freshmen who are the first in their families to go to college. Training CSUN faculty and staff in mentoring, especially the art of ‘mentoring on the run,’ is critical for promoting the success of our students.”

Omatsu lead faculty through several workshops throughout the Spring 2011 semester, with various topics covered, such as focusing on how faculty could use each interaction with a student as a mentoring opportunity, how faculty could create a “community of mentors” by collaborating with Title V Peer Mentors and how faculty could infuse a “culture of mentoring” in their classrooms.

Three of our faculty members who participated in the training also served as a Faculty Mentor to more than 70 freshmen students in a Discipline Based Freshman Connection course in the spring semester. These faculty members also teamed up with Peer Mentors in their courses to monitor their progress and the climate in the classroom.

The training also impacted new faculty, who used these workshops to discover and learn for the first time just how different and powerful a professor’s role plays as a mentor in the classroom. Dr. Frankie Augustin became a faculty member at CSUN  in 2009, and has worked with mentoring students for 20 years. Augustin first served as a Service Center Peer Mentor for the College of Science and Math as a CSUN student, and progressively worked her way up as the College of Science and Math’s Director of Student Services, where she managed and trained a staff of mentors. Although she’s no stranger to mentoring, Augustin says she has had an eye-opening experience learning how a professor can mentor a student in a different setting, and said one of the most powerful lessons learned from Omatsu is how a simple smile can make the biggest impact on a student.  “I trained my staff on mentoring, so I thought I knew everything there was to know about it, but it’s different when you’re faculty,” said Augustin. “I am more aware that as a faculty member, students view me differently because I control their grade and they are more afraid to approach me. I learned to smile more in class and I noticed how much more comfortable students are to talk to me and ask me questions. My hope is that my students will ultimately earn a good grade because they see that I care and that I want them to be successful.”

Omatsu says he enjoys working with open-minded faculty who courageously try new methods to help CSUN students, and knows that this program will be mutually beneficial for both the mentors and students.

“Surrounding students with a community of mentors and a culture of mentoring increases student learning,” said Omatsu.  Moreover, mentoring is by definition a reciprocal relationship, and thus faculty and peer mentors who help students also benefit from the relationship.  By serving as mentors, faculty become better teachers; by serving as mentors, peer mentors become better students.”