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Importance Of Mentoring

May 19, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 20

Satisfaction and pride are what I felt as I read the ACS Comment titled “Mentoring New Faculty,” by ACS District IV Director Rigoberto Hernandez (C&EN, March 24, page 36).

My satisfaction comes from the fact that the Cottrell Scholars Collaborative (CSC) New Faculty Workshop addresses what can only be described as glaring holes in the preparation of future chemistry faculty members. Typically, graduate and postdoctoral training are tightly focused on lab skills. Unfortunately, essential “soft” skills—such as classroom teaching, time and personnel management, and grant writing—frequently are taught on an ad hoc basis, if at all. The CSC New Faculty Workshop is intended to address this serious shortcoming.

My pride comes from the fact that in 2005, Michael Doyle of the University of Maryland and I collaborated to establish a similar, highly successful event—the Annual Mentoring Workshop for New Faculty in Organic & Biological Chemistry ( To date, this workshop, which is supported by a conference grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, has impacted approximately 300 junior faculty participants.

Although each ACS Comment bears a standard disclaimer (“Views expressed on this page are those of the author and not necessarily those of ACS.”), one might hope that ACS shares this particular author’s views. It is in everyone’s best interest that talented young academics succeed. “Sink or swim” is no longer an acceptable model for career development. I urge ACS to take a leadership role in promoting effective mentoring as a core value in graduate and postdoctoral training and career development.

John M. Schwab
Bethesda, Md.



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