Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Cheryl A. Getz, EdD, Chair; Theresa M. Monroe, PhD, Member; George E. Reed, PhD, Member


administration, collaborative, faculty, higher education, holistic, Leadership studies, mentoring environment, perspective, private faith-based university, qualitative, southern California, staff, students


Research indicates that the term mentor in the context of higher education currently has multiple definitions and is used to describe a variety of programs, efforts, and formal as well as informal activities. In recent years, interdisciplinary perspectives on traditional undergraduate students have been converging around the idea that the functions and characteristics of mentoring students could be shared across the institution, creating what Daloz Parks (2000) has called a mentoring environment. This sharing of responsibility has the possibility to address what Baxter Magolda (2009) has recently identified as missing in higher education, a "holistic, theoretical perspective to promote the learning and developing of the whole student" (p. 621). A review of the literature from psychology, sociology, and student affairs documents this attempt to consider a more integrated and collaborative approach to college as a mentoring environment. The purpose of this research was to understand better how these students perceived, received, understood, and experienced one aspect of their college experience: mentoring. This qualitative study used thematic analysis to consider the input of 12 undergraduate students who have recently or will soon graduate from a private, four-year, faith-based liberal arts university in Southern California. The study was guided by the following research questions: How do graduating seniors attending a private, traditional, faith-based, four-year liberal-arts university describe mentoring? How do the students describe the formal and/or informal mentoring they have received during their college years? What suggestions do the students have for improving the university's formal and informal mentoring efforts? Based on extensive data analysis, findings revealed that students spoke to the transformative nature of relational and participatory experiences with faculty, staff and administrators as well as the value of opportunities to interact with several important adult mentors. Irrespective of efforts categorized as formal or informal mentoring, participants spoke more to the value of campus leaders showing an interest in their personal and professional development. Recommendations are offered for faculty, staff and administrators regarding a more holistic and collaborative approach to college as a mentoring environment. Beyond this study, the recommendations discussed should be considered based on individual, institutional suitability.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access