Renovating Pacific’s Full-First Year Mentor Program

Document Type

Conference Presentation



Conference Title

Annual National Resource Center Conference on the First-Year Experience


Atlanta, GA

Conference Dates

February 24-28, 2006

Date of Presentation



Established in 1992, Pacific’s Mentor Seminar Program is a required three semester sequence— Mentor I and II are taught in the first year, and Mentor III in the senior year. Due to a recent extensive review, the program has been substantially redesigned, and the university is supporting the new program with at least seven new faculty lines to maintain high levels of tenure-track faculty participation.

In our presentation, we will discuss why the program has been changed, how we are changing it, the nature of the new Mentor Seminars, a new e-portfolio system, and potential difficulties in implementing the new program.

Currently, Mentor I is a common syllabus course devoted to timeless philosophical questions, Mentor II is devoted to contemporary social policies and civic engagement, and Mentor III serves as an ethical capstone course in which students write an ethical autobiography.

The redesigned Mentor Program will be thematically uniform since it focuses on one overarching question, ‘What is a Good Society?’ Mentor I will continue to be a common-syllabus course that examines various aspects of a Good Society in an introductory way through a more inclusive interdisciplinary reader. Mentor II follows up the broad first-semester course with newly developed topical seminars taught from all academic divisions (including six professional schools) that focus in-depth on specific issues of a Good Society. Finally, Mentor III is reframed to focus on students’ ethical development in the contexts of family, work, and citizenship, and it will add an intellectual autobiography. These autobiographies will draw from an electronic portfolio of work from the previous Mentor Seminars as well as General Education courses. The portfolio will bring more coherence to the General Education program for students and faculty and will be a means to assess the program as a whole.

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