Mentoring the Masters
Youngstown State University’s presidential mentors program, though unknown to many students, strives to give not only valuable leadership training to 30 chosen student but also give students a stronger voice in administrative actions.
Youngstown State University’s presidential mentors program strives to give valuable leadership training and a stronger voice in administrative actions to 30 chosen students. However, it is a program that may be unknown to many.
YSU President Randy Dunn said the mentors program is important for administrators to gather information and a larger scope of opinions, and it provides experience to students in administrative and adviser positions.
“It is one more sounding board that exists from students on things that we can do here on campus to improve the university, improve our operations, making it a more user friend place.” Dunn said. “Another big part of it is working with the students involved in presidential mentors to allow leadership development to take place with that groups of individual. These are students from across all walks of the campus that have distinguished themselves.”
Jack Fahey, YSU’s vice president of Student Affairs and administrator involved in the program, said the presidential mentors meet once a month with senior administration to everything from budgetary concerns to campus life.
“It is to have senior leadership group of students that provide wisdom, advice, counsel to the senior administration of the university,” Fahey said. “They meet monthly. It is a pretty wide open round table discussion. We talk about whatever is on their mind, and we typically bring a couple things to the table.”
Mentors are chosen at the beginning of every school year through a nominations process, where faculty and staff place nominations behind upper level students extensively involved on campus.
“Those folk that are nominated have the ability to fill out an application, and then there is a selection process. Typically we are looking for people who have been here for a while, juniors or seniors, a couple graduate students,” Fahey said. “We are looking for people who are experienced, that have been here for awhile, have a pretty strong resume in terms of their involvement.”
Melissa Wasser, senior YSU student and presidential mentor, said she was nominated her junior year and chose to stay on the program into her senior year.
“I got an email, Erin Driscoll, saying that I was selected to be a presidential adviser,” Wasser said. “For the second year, if you were asked as a junior to be a presidential mentor, you were allowed to stay on the body and be reappointed as a senior. So that is what I chose to do.”
Though the program is not explicitly designed to be representative of students, Wasser said mentors endeavor to inquire after student concerns in their classes,organizations, or on-campus jobs and champion those concerns in meetings.
“We do come from all walks of life: We have people from the education people; we have people from Dana school of music; we have every section of campus,” Wasser said.“If we hear someone complaining in our classes that ‘they didn’t put enough salt down’ or they had a really hard time driving in because of the weather. We want to bring those things up.”
Though there is no mechanism to assure Dunn and other administrators will follow the advice of mentors, Fahey said the mentors have helped keep them focused on urgent matters.
“It is a trust thing. We’re inviting them to give us their wisdom and advice. Obviously there is no guarantee that we are going to follow every piece of advice we get from them. But the students each year indicate that it is a good experience,” Fahey said. “They did a pretty good job holding our feet to the fire, and getting things done that they feel are important.”
Acknowledging the lack of student knowledge on the specifics of the program, Wasser said the mentors are working on detailing how to become a mentor and the particulars of involvement.
“We are trying to work on getting a service project out because a lot of people don’t know what presidential mentors do. The process is not that scary to join,” Wasser said.