University of Southern California USC

Spring 2013 Mellon Mentoring Forum Meeting

The Spring 2013 Mellon Mentoring Forum took place on March 28, 2013. Professor John Brooks Slaughter was the guest speaker.

Creating an Inclusive Academic Community:
A Community Built on Mentoring and Support

John Brooks Slaughter, Ph.D.

Professor of Engineering and Education
USC Rossier School of Education
USC Viterbi School of Engineering

In our ever more complex, pluralistic and interdependent global society, American colleges and universities are finding it necessary to create new forms of community that are significantly different from those that have characterized campus life for decades.  The presence of large numbers of international students coupled with the increasing representation of persons from different races, socio-economic classes, sexual preferences, faiths and physical abilities require our higher education institutions to change in order to meet their needs for an affirming and welcoming learning environment.   But creating community in such an environment is not easy.  It requires hard work over a sustained period of time.  It calls for attempting to achieve a goal of wholeness that incorporates diversity.  It demands a base of shared values; a high level of caring, trust and teamwork; a commitment to communication, participation and affirmation by all; the presence of a set of strong linkages that extend beyond the community; the inclusion and development of the younger members of the group; a positive and forward-looking vision of the future; and, importantly, institutional arrangements that assure the maintenance and permanence of the community that results.  Without these elements in place, a community, especially an academic community, can neither be constructed nor preserved.  In such a community, mentoring is a task undertaken by all and serves to bind the members of the community including its students, faculty, staff, administrators and alumni into one with shared purposes and goals.  It is this vision we should pursue.