Mentoring Program History

Mentoring has been a part of the Gustavus ethos for over 150 years. The close-knit community of the College has provided fertile soil for natural mentoring to occur. Historically mentoring has happened in places such as with faculty, student employment supervising, athletic coaches, and in the residence halls. 

Over the last twenty years there have also been a few occurrences of Career Development and the Alumni Office partnering in developing alumni/student mentoring. These initiatives, although small in scope, were well received by the alumni and students. Over time these smaller initiatives faded due to lack of structure, funding, and dedicated staff time. But times are changing and the Mentoring Program has now found its permanent home in Career Development.

Even with the challenges faced during the 2020-2021 academic year due to Covid-19, the Gustavus Mentoring Program continued to grow. The program saw 44% increase of users on the Gusties Connect platform. The interactions between the mentors and mentees increased to the highest level to date. The formal program also saw an increase of participation to 361 formal mentoring pairs. This was in part to the new partnerships with the Gustavus Dental Club and Men’s and Women’s Tennis Teams. In response to Covid-19, 5 new virtual events were established. Lastly, progress was made on our goal to make the Gustavus Mentoring program more inclusive and welcoming to all students. We did this by opening up the program to First Year Students and incorporating programming designed around Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

The Mentoring Program had its largest year yet! With the introduction of a new platform powered by PeopleGrove, Gusties Connect allowed the program to expand and increase the ability for interactions to happen globally through electronic communication via the platform video chat function. The Program expanded across multiple career interests to include 335 mentoring pairs, an increase of 58% over the previous year. As the Program continues to grow it is our hope that at least 50% of graduating seniors will have had a mentor at some point in their time here at Gustavus. The Gusties Connect platform isn't just for the Mentoring Program, its for alumni to connect as well. By joining the platform alumni can contact one another and form connections or reestablish old connections. Students are also able to reach out to more alumni then just those that are in the formal Mentoring Program increasing their knowledge of the working world and industries that they would like to pursue.

The Mentoring Program has 211 mentoring pairs from all across campus. This year Environmental Studies students and alumni were added to the growing list of career interests and majors attributing to the success of the Program. There has also begun a transition from major focus matching to career interest area focus matching based off of Career Development's use of Career Interest Clusters. Monthly Career Conversations were also expanded this year and can be found on the Program Overview page.
The Mentoring Program had 170 mentoring pairs from all across campus. This program has had a big year of transition as it has become part of the ACTS Strategic Plan, has found its permanent home in Career Development, and has a new director. 

Kathi Tunheim


The Mentoring Program had about 220 participants in a variety of departments: E/M, Pscyhology, Political Science, Athletics, and Communication Studies. The program continues to engage students and alumni from a variety of places.

Economics and Managment had 200 mentoring pairs and Athletics has 36 pairs. In addition the Education and Nursing Departments were added and a pilot began in the Political Science and Psychology departments as well.
Growth continued in the program to 133 mentoring pairs from Economics and Management and 19 pairs from the Athletics Department.
The program grew to 86 mentoring pairs from Economics and Management. Amy Perhson, from the Center for Servant Leadership became involved to help provide logistics support as mentoring is connected to the work of the CSL in vocation, leadership, and career.
Two of participating students were asked to support and manage the program operations. Through their hard work, the total number of matches tripled in the second year to 39 mentoring pairs. The Alumni Board learned of the pilot and eagerly became involved in recruiting alumni mentors.
A successful pilot mentoring program for 12 Economics and Management majors ensued.

Mentoring Banquet


Kathi Tunheim and Paul Batz conceived the idea of a mentoring program for students in the Economics and Management Department. Paul Batz is a 1985 Gustavus graduate. He met his wife, Melinda, at Gustavus.Paul says, “The connections from our Gustavus community shaped who we are and how we approach our life's work more than any other source in our lives.”

Years later, Paul was having breakfast with a college friend, Scott Anderson '89, CEO of Patterson Companies. As they reflected on their college experience, they had the idea to provide an additional layer of support for current Gustavus students by providing alumni mentors to help them navigate the transition from college to a career. Together they provided the "let’s just do it" energy and some funding to get the program rolling. Their hope was to formalize the idea that "what it means to be a Gustie is to help each other.”

At the same time, Kathi Tunheim, a new Assistant Professor in the Economics and Management Department, saw the need for an Alumni/Student Mentor program, too. A group of students had benchmarked the best mentoring programs around the country and had written recommendations on how to get the program here at Gustavus off the ground. They merged efforts. Paul agreed to find the alumni mentors. Kathi agreed to find the 12 advisees to pilot the program.