Mentoring at Columbia University is a privilege.

All Columbia graduate students and postdocs belong here and should expect to be supported throughout their time at the University. Mentoring relationships are key to ensuring that they are able to achieve their goals while learning and conducting research at Columbia. Faculty play an important role in welcoming graduate students and postdocs into Columbia’s academic community and ensuring their success over time.

This initiative, hosted by the Office of the Provost in partnership with the Center for Teaching and Learning, is intended to provide faculty with the support they need to be effective mentors of graduate students and postdocs. Through invited speakers, workshops, learning communities, consultations services, and on-demand resources, we hope to cultivate effective, efficient and inclusive mentoring practices to support the needs of faculty mentors as they work with their graduate students and postdocs mentees.

Featured Events

The Office of the Provost and the Center for Teaching and Learning invite Columbia faculty to upcoming events on mentoring of graduate students and postdocs including a virtual performance and conversation with the CRLT Players from the University of Michigan Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT) and Mentoring Monday Conversations with the Columbia CTL. Read more below and access resources from past events.

Through a dramatized series of conversations between graduate students and their advisors acted out by the CRLT Players from the University of Michigan Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT), Everything is Fine!: Mentoring to Support Graduate Student Mental Health explores the impact of structural and interpersonal issues on graduate student mentoring. To examine challenges related to mental health, depicted scenarios include candid peer-to-peer discussions of personal and academic challenges as well as more formal advisor-mentee meetings. This piece also takes into account the additional challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic to graduate student mentoring. Audiences will engage with the performance by thinking through strategies to improve their relationships with their mentees via facilitated discussion. The session is suitable for faculty.

In this session, participants will:

  • Reflect on structural and interpersonal issues that create challenges in advisor-mentee relationships.
  • Explore specific strategies to alleviate the interpersonal challenges relating to mental health.
  • Consider how to apply these strategies to their own mentoring practices. 

About the CRLT Players
CRLT Players sessions use theatrical case studies to highlight the ways that lived experiences in higher education differ based on social identities and existing systemic inequities. The paired facilitated discussions ask participants to consider approaches for disrupting problematic behaviors and increasing equity in various institutional contexts. 

The Players company is made of performers, directors, practitioners, musicians, playwrights, and educational developers. They are committed to advancing social justice and addressing equity gaps. They work to make institutions of higher education more equitable and inclusive spaces for the people situated in them.

Mentoring Monday Conversations

February 6, March 6, April 10, and May 1, 2023

Online 12:00pm – 1:00pm

Join the CTL and colleagues for monthly conversations to discuss your mentorship practices, brainstorm solutions to mentoring challenges, and explore what can be learned by reading excerpts from the book Bridging Differences for Better Mentoring: Lean Forward, Learn, Leverage (Fain and Zachary, 2020)!

Together we will reflect on our experiences with mentoring graduate students and postdocs, what we are taking away from the reading, and how we translate the ideas from the book into our contexts and our mentoring practices. These online conversations will be facilitated by the CTL, will include questions to guide the discussion and invite all participants to share, ask questions, and will form a community around mentorship of graduate students and postdocs at Columbia.

Each month will explore a different theme. Register for as many conversations as you would like:

  • February 6: Assumptions and Expectations – Register
  • March 6: Mentoring and Mental Health – Register
  • April 10: Addressing Challenging Moments – Register
  • May 1: Building Trust and Giving Feedback – Register

Register for a conversation and receive a copy of Bridging Differences for Better Mentoring: Lean Forward, Learn, Leverage. Please complete the request form to receive a copy of the book or access the ebook version available through Columbia Libraries.

About the book

Lisa Z. Fain and Lois J. Zachary offer a timely practical guide for helping mentors develop the level of cultural competency needed to bridge differences. Firmly rooted in Zachary’s well-known four-part mentoring model, the book uses three fictional scenarios featuring three pairs of diverse mentors and mentees to illustrate how key concepts can play out in real life. It offers an array of accessible tools and strategies designed to help increase your self-awareness and prepare you to embrace and leverage differences in your mentoring relationships. But beyond tips and techniques, Fain and Zachary emphasize that authenticity is the key: the ultimate purpose of this book is to help the mentor and mentee make a genuine connection and learn from each other. That’s when the magic really happens.

Interested in having the CTL facilitate similar conversations in your department or school? Contact us at

Past Events

In Fall 2022, Columbia hosted a virtual keynote and a workshop facilitated by Lisa Fain, CEO of Center for Mentoring Excellence and co-author of The Mentor’s Guide, Third Edition (2022), and Bridging Differences for Better Mentoring: Lean Forward, Learn, Leverage (2020). Learn more about the sessions and find links to view the event recordings below. 


Keynote: Bridging Differences for Better Mentoring: Creating an Inclusive Learning Environment One Relationship at a Time

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

To access the recording available on Panopto, please authenticate using your Columbia UNI and password.
Most institutions today understand the benefits of having more diverse and inclusive learning environments. Yet, there is work to be done when it comes to mentoring. Delivered and facilitated by Lisa Fain, CEO of Center for Mentoring Excellence, this session will include an interactive, entertaining and practical keynote, from which you will learn how mentoring can help drive inclusion, why talking about difference in your mentoring relationships is essential, and how to create transformative mentoring relationships that have an impact for mentors and mentees. You will walk away with new insights and tips you can apply to improve your mentoring relationships right away. You will also have the opportunity to discuss these concepts with fellow participants and to identify concrete steps that you will take to make them come to life. There will be time for Q&A so please bring your questions.

Workshop: Bridging Differences for Better Mentoring: Inclusive Mentoring Skills

December 7, 2022 

To access the recording available on Panopto, please authenticate using your Columbia UNI and password.
Learn how to create effective mentoring relationships by building trust and encourage safe, open and authentic conversations.

Bridging Differences provides a roadmap for keeping relationships on track and for creating safety and comfort around discussing, learning from, and leveraging difference. As a result, new mentors are more confident because they know what to expect and they have the tools and strategies they needed to guide them. Experienced mentors will gain new insights that allow them to recognize what was missing in past mentoring relationships and better understand why they went off course.

This interactive workshop will equip Columbia University faculty with the skills and knowledge to structure their mentoring relationships, create accountability and achieve measurable learning outcomes through mentoring.

Our Services

The Center for Teaching and Learning is available to provide consultations for individual faculty who would like to discuss their mentoring practices, document their mentoring as teaching; and for departments that would like to discuss their mentoring plans to support the learning and growth of their graduate students and postdocs.


Explore external resources on mentoring

Watch the webinar: Mentorship: Efficient and Effective Practices (Landry, 2022) from the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity. To access the recording, activate your Columbia sponsored membership.

Listen to The Science of Effective Mentoring in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine) podcast series from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (and download the free PDF by the same title). The series highlights evidence-based mentorship practices and features personal mentorship stories of leaders in academia, business, and the media. 

Check out the resources compiled on the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER) website.