Columbia University

Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Guidelines & Responsibilities for Faculty

For the First Meeting

  • Once you learn who your mentee is, reach out to them within a week.  You should schedule the first in-person meeting, but going forward, expect and encourage your mentee to take the lead in initiating contact and scheduling.  Meetings with students may be one-on-one or as a group.
  • Be prepared to direct the conversation in the beginning: suggest topics, ask questions.
  • Establish goals and expectations from the outset:
    • Long-term goals?  Short-term goals?  What is a reasonable goal?
    • What is the focus of the relationship?
    • What is a successful outcome?
    • What are measurable milestones along the way?
  • Establish procedural plans:
    • What is the time commitment both of you can make?  How often will you meet, and for how long?  
    • How formal / informal will meetings be?
  • Be clear about your limitations (with time, effort, contact, etc) early on.  Clearly communicate your level of availability.
    • Are you available via email / phone / text?
    • What is the best way to reach you for a timely response?  


Guidelines & Responsibilities


  • Listen actively and ask questions.
  • Allow your mentee to take the lead to direct the conversation and relationship, and tell you what is most helpful to them.
  • Be generous with both praise and constructive criticism.
  • Support and empower students to find their own solutions and work through their own ideas.  Offer support, share personal experience, make observations; ask if you can offer advice.  
  • Help your mentee find a diverse network of professional and academic contacts and support: alumni, grad students, other undergrads, other Columbia faculty, outside faculty and professionals.  
  • Provide opportunities for mentees to attend conferences, meetings, workshops, etc where they can meet students and others who can continue to build their network.
  • Keep conversations confidential (to the extent possible).  Discuss confidentiality with your mentee early on.
    • All Columbia employees are required by University policy to report gender-based misconduct experienced by undergraduate students.  The full policy is available at
  • Be aware of your own weaknesses and the gaps in your ability to address particular concerns.  Assist your mentee in finding someone who can help when you cannot, and in identifying resources on campus and off campus.