Editor’s Note: This is a continuation of The Berkeley Graduate’s new graduate student orientation edition.
Graduate students are an integral part of the academic core of the University, conducting research and instructing undergraduates, with a personal interest in the success of this institution. The relationship between faculty and graduate students is at the heart of the discoveries and productions that are generated by any research institution, and at UC Berkeley, a university that in the recent years has been recognized as the best overall graduate institution in the nation, successful relationships between faculty and graduate students are integral to the overall graduate experience.
Oftentimes, a close academic relationship with a mentoring professor can become the pivotal factor in a student’s success and completion of his or her graduate degree. While such relationships do not always occur instantly or remain sustained, success in mentoring is something that requires the cooperation and efforts of both the professor and the graduate student.
One of the main aids to faculty-graduate student mentoring is the Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) Teaching and Resource Center, which provides teaching support and guidance to GSIs as well as mentoring seminars and workshops for faculty to help them become better mentors. Berkeley is one of the only universities to incorporate faculty mentoring of GSIs into university policy. The policy outlines the guidelines concerning recruitment, workload, preparation, and assessment of GSIs, as well as highlights the central role that faculty play in mentoring graduate students as teachers.
At any given time, there are over a thousand GSIs working in the university and the goal of the GSI Teaching and Resource Center is to great an ongoing feedback loop between GSIs and faculty so that the quality of the courses is enhanced. The results not only make for a better teaching experience, but also improve the quality of undergraduate education.
Among the numerous endeavors of the Center is to make sure that the work that faculty are doing in relation to mentoring graduate students is acknowledged and included in the university reward system. To that end, each year a few select faculty, from both within the Academic Senate and without, are recognized with the Faculty Award for Outstanding Mentorship of GSIs. In addition, a similar award, the Distinguished Faculty Mentors Award, is given annually by the Graduate Assembly to honor faculty research mentoring.