A longitudinal qualitative study of collegiate mentoring experiences in the Nebraska Human Resources Research Foundation
Mentoring has been found to positively contribute to leadership development, yet little research has been conducted regarding collegiate mentoring programs. This longitudinal qualitative study discusses the experiences of nine adults who served as collegiate mentors (counselors) in the Nebraska Human Resources Research Foundation (NHRRF) mentoring program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln from 1971–2001. NHRRF was founded in 1949 by William E. Hall under the philosophy that the greatest resource is the human resource and that talented people learn best by building on their strengths.
Since 1988, the foundation's programs have been administered through the Nebraska Human Resources Institute (NHRI). Following the introductory and literature review chapters, this dissertation presents three manuscripts that explore specific research questions relevant to understanding the history, structure, experiences, and impacts of NHRRF. Multiple, lengthy interviews were conducted with former collegiate counselors who were purposefully selected, and archival documents were researched. Chapter Four uses a case study approach to explore the history, and structural features of NHRRF. Chapters Five and Six use a phenomenological approach to explore mentor experiences. Chapter Five reveals the cognitive and cultural impacts on the participants, while Chapter Six explores the “ripple effect” of the organization on others.
This study found that former counselors participated throughout a continuum of four decades in this ongoing leadership mentoring program and themes, concepts, terminology, and attitudes served as common denominators that survived into their adult lives. Participants spoke of building relationships, identifying and mirroring strengths, developing leadership skills, listening effectively, and demonstrating empathy, and “reinvesting” these in others. Applicable leadership theories include: transformational, critical transformational, beta, and servant leadership.
These findings suggest that this program impacts leadership development through an undergraduate course exploring dimensions of leadership; by mentors investing in long-term, positive relationships with their peers and protégés; through the NHRRF/NHRI structure where mentors invest time, adapt to the needs of protégés, and maximize theirs and others potential.
0745: Higher education