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 Kent L. Gee
Department of Physics and Astronomy Brigham Young University Provo, Utah 84602 USA
Arthur N. Popper
Department of Biology University of Maryland College Park, Maryland 20742 USA
Improving Academic Mentoring Relationships and Environments
Mentoring, and being mentored, is important at all stages of a person’s career.
Origin of Mentoring1
The Greek poet Homer describes Odysseus, king of Ithaca, as having a loyal friend and advisor by the name of Mentor. While Odysseus was away fighting in the Tro- jan War, Mentor became a trusted teacher, coach, counselor, and protector of Odys- seus’ son Telemachus. Thus, the word “mentor” used today derives from Homer and reflects a process where the mentor guides and protects another.
Over the past few decades, the issue of mentorship has risen to the forefront in business, academia, and elsewhere. Mentoring is valued as a part of the culture of many organizations, and formal programs are developed to leverage the increases in job satisfaction and productivity that mentoring produces. In the university academic environment, the first thought of mentorship involves a faculty member and students, which could include undergraduate and graduate students, and in some cases, high schoolers. However, important mentoring opportunities extend also to faculty-postdoc relationships and to senior-junior faculty interactions. In- deed, one can easily argue that the academic mentor-mentee relationship should not conclude with a signed thesis, with a faculty appointment, or with tenure but rather should develop, evolve, and perpetuate over the course of a career.
Purpose of This Article
Nearly all members of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) find themselves in a mentoring relationship during some part of their careers, and, indeed, they are encouraged to mentor at ASA meetings (e.g., Blackstock, 2015; Bent, 2016). Although most members do their utmost to make the mentoring relationship ef- fective and satisfying, often the relationship would benefit from both the mentor and mentee giving more deliberate thought and consideration to what leads to the most effective relationship (e.g., Pfund et al., 2006).
Thus, the purpose of this article is to describe how mentoring relationships may be improved in academic environments and how both mentors and mentees should think about this very important relationship. We describe the principles of men- toring and the characteristics of mentors and discuss mentoring issues specific to undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs, and junior faculty members. We draw on both best practices in the literature and our own experiences in mentor- ing and in being mentored. The body of literature regarding mentoring is increas- ingly broad and deep; we highlight only a few references to provide a starting point
1 We dedicate this article to our mentors who not only helped us shape our careers but also our scholarly lives and how we mentor our students and colleagues. In particular, ANP wishes to dedicate this article to William N. Tavolga, who passed away in May 2017 at the age of 95. Bill was a consummate mentor and extraordi- nary scholar, and his legacy lives on through those he mentored.
 ©2017 Acoustical Society of America. All rights reserved. volume 13, issue 3 | Fall 2017 | Acoustics Today | 27

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