Mentoring program succeeding

The Faculty Mentor Program is new to Augustana this year with John Delaney, faculty athletics representative, as head of the program.
Delaney’s main role is to serve as a liaison between faculty and athletics.
Delaney had heard of these faculty mentoring programs his first year as the faculty athletics representative with other schools in the CCIW Conference.
“This mentor program is not a reaction to anything negative about the athletic program,” said Delaney. “It’s just that there is a push by the NCAA to have more mentoring for student athletes. We’re just using this program as one vehicle to get us going further into that direction.”
Quickly after hearing about the idea, Delaney mentioned it to Provost Pareena Lawrence.
“It worked really well with our strategic plan,” said Lawrence. “One of our plans is to further integrate curricular and co-curricular activities.”
The program has Augustana’s athletic teams assigned a mentor.
“A successful program would be that these mentors get integrated with the team in different ways,” said Delaney. “We would also like to see…that there is a favorable experience expressed by the coaches as well.”
Due to the program being new to Augustana, there isn’t a specific criteria to assign mentors other than interest, but most mentors thus far have shown some athletic experience in their background, whether it be from high school or college.
On Sept. 25, a workshop will be held, and the mentors and coaches will share an update. Delaney  said he’s anticipating good reviews at this workshop.
“I’m convinced that the better we are at getting student athletes connected with faculty, the better we are as a college, and there is no reason that this program can’t accomplish that,” said Delaney.
The women’s cross country team has their faculty mentor, English professor Farah Marklevits, a former runner of the same team.
Marklevits’ husband James van Howe, who is a former runner and physics professor, mentors as well.
“It’s been a really great experience,” said Marklevits. “We’ve already had the chance to cheer on the team at a meet that we brought along our two daughters of the ages of six and four. It was just nice to get that connection between our family and the team.”
Marklevits said she goes to the team’s practices once a week.
“I’ve already had some very interesting conversations and some that have really made me think about teaching, learning, and reflecting on my professional responsibilities as a professor,” said Marklevits.
Since the program is new, there aren’t specific tasks that each mentor has to follow, but there are tasks determined between the faculty mentor and the coach.
Marklevits described her role to the team as being “a slightly awkward nerdy cheerleader.”
“My goal is to attend as many meets as I can to cheer them on, but also to try to make connections with them so they can know that I’m aware of the things that they’re doing as they’re working together,” said Marklevits.
First-year runners Sierra Scanlan and Comet Blecha said the program is going well.
“It’s been a lot of fun to race,” said Blecha. “You have a family right off the bat in not only your team, but with a professor.”
They were introduced to their mentors in week one and view this experience as being a good one.
“It’s something new to the team, which makes it sort of an experiment,” said Scanlan. “They’re very supportive of the team, and if any of us need something, we can go straight to them.”