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Exploring the role of faculty and staff mentors in fostering ethical leadership among undergraduate students: “We have to narrow the distance”

Meg E. Evans (College Student Affairs Admin, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA)
Rebecca M. Taylor (Education Policy, Organization and Leadership, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois, USA)
Laila McCloud (Educational Leadership and Counseling, Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA)
Katherine Burr (Assessment, Office of Instruction, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA)

International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education

ISSN: 2046-6854

Article publication date: 22 October 2021

Issue publication date: 15 April 2022




The purpose of this interdisciplinary study is to identify the aspects that faculty, student affairs educators and students indicate as salient for effective mentoring relationships that enhance ethical leadership development.


This exploratory qualitative inquiry used the Relational-Ethical-Affective-Dialogic (READ) mentoring model as a framework to examine the experiences of 13 undergraduate mentees and faculty/staff mentors in a formal mentoring program. Each study participant engaged in one semi-structured interview. Researchers coded and analyzed data using the sort and sift, think and shift process identifying power quotes to guide the thematic analysis.


The data collected in this study revealed insights into the aspects of mentor relationships that both undergraduate mentees and their mentors perceived as contributing to students' ethical leadership development. Salient elements included: (1) relational features of the mentee-mentor dynamic including trust and reciprocity; (2) structural features of the mentoring program including its focus on ethics; and (3) mentoring approaches that were attentive to power and positionality within the mentoring relationship and involved professional judgment about self-disclosure.


This study adds to the literature by exploring effective mentoring for ethical leadership development across disciplines. With colleges and universities serving a vital role in preparing the next generation of leaders for ethical engagement in their democratic and professional roles after graduation, it is imperative to broaden our understanding of how faculty and staff can support students' ethical leadership development.



This publication was made possible through the support of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the John Templeton Foundation.


Evans, M.E., Taylor, R.M., McCloud, L. and Burr, K. (2022), "Exploring the role of faculty and staff mentors in fostering ethical leadership among undergraduate students: “We have to narrow the distance”", International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 137-152.



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