TitlePeer Mentors: Creating Connections for Success Request Date2012-11-30
DepartmentCollege of Business
RequestorChristine Lamb & Susan Dana Phone994-4681
Campuses Bozeman Billings Havre Great Falls FSTS Extension MAES
Cross Depts  
Proposed Dates Start: Fall 2013 End:  
The purpose of this proposal is to request funding for a professional adviser dedicated to students' degree progress and engagement in leadership and professionalism. The adviser's primary duties will be to create/coordinate a Peer Mentoring Program in which 20 business juniors/seniors will be paired with pre-business students in an effort to promote both academic planning as well as to better prepare both mentors and mentees as reflective, effective professionals. The primary goal is the creation of a self-sustaining model which positively impacts student professionalism and the active/experiential learning culture of the CoB.
Strategic Alignment

This proposal specifically addresses the following objectives from the MSU 2012 Strategic Plan:

Objective L.2: Increase graduation rates at MSU
Providing students with timely and accurate planning tools is essential to academic planning and degree progress. Degree Works audits and planning tools will significantly enhance students’ ability to map out and assess their academic progress. Less time can be spent in advising answering the ‘where students are’ questions and more time can be spent on planning ahead and discussing academic/professional interests and goals. Internal CoB data show that students are less likely to be retained between the sophomore and junior years rather than between the freshman and sophomore years. Peer coaching of pre-business students through the preparatory courses and requirements of the curriculum will likely lead to more students being retained to the junior year and to be formally admitted the CoB. AY2011 CoB data illustrated that 93% of the students admitted to the CoB subsequently graduated. In the last five years, less than 1% of the students changing curriculum out of the CoB did so after they had been formally admitted to the college. Efforts which focus on the transition from pre-business student to admitted business student are likely to result in more students being admitted to upper division and hence increased graduation rates.

Objective E.3: MSU students, faculty and staff will have increased opportunities for leadership development
Integrating the CoB strategic objectives of linking knowing, doing, and reflecting with the direct professional coaching of upper division students and the subsequent role these students will play in coaching pre-business students significantly increases the leadership development of both the mentors and the mentees.
Funding Type: One-Time Only Funding Base (3-yr Recurring) Funding
  FY13 FY14 FY15 Base ($) OTO Startup ($)   FTE;
Salaries       52000     
Benefits       11500       
Materials & Supplies              
Contracted Services              
Other Operations       2000       
TOTAL 65500   
Please comment, if necessary, regarding cost and requirements.

Budget Explanation

The expenditures for a professional advisor and the Peer Mentor Program include the following:

Professional Advisor:  Because of the complexity and scope of this individual’s duties, the CoB would likely require both significant IT experience and a Master’s degree.  No additional general operational expenses would be incurred with the addition of this person to the CoB Student Services Office.  Salary and benefits for this position would be as follows:  salary = $32,000 + benefits = $10,240 = $42,240 per year.

Peer Mentor Program:  The costs associated with the creation and coordination of this program are as follows:

  • Peer Mentor Stipends:  To reduce the costs associated with tracking hourly wage employees, Peer Mentors will receive a $500/semester stipend for their various responsibilities.  If we were to pay them $10.00/hour this would equate to approximately 50 hours of work during a semester or 3-4 hours/week.  It is reasonable to expect that 3-4 hours/week will be sufficient for Peer Mentors to have meaningful and sustained contact with their Mentees.  Details of the logistics of creating and sustaining Mentor/Mentee cohorts are included in the Implementation section of this document.  Salary and benefits for peer mentors would be as follows:  salary = $20,000 + benefits = $1,260 = $21,260 per year.
  • Program Operations:  General and incidental costs will be incurred when involving students in the MSU/CoB community.  Such costs would include promotional and programmatic materials, occasional event costs, and modest food/beverage costs. General operations = $2,000 per year.
Describe the Proposal

Proposal Scope

The scope of the proposal affects the faculty, students, and staff of the CoB as well as a variety of stakeholders including the university community and future employers.  The basic goal of the proposal is to create a dedicated professional advising position in the CoB Office of Student Services whose focus will be to enhance the professionalism of the undergraduate students through a Peer Mentoring program and to ensure the integrity of academic planning by maintaining Degree Works for the 1100 students in the CoB.

Creation/Coordination of a Peer Mentoring Program: Currently the CoB advising model is based a NACADA approved model of ‘dual advising’.  Processes such as admission to the CoB and degree certification are housed in the centralized Office of Student Services.  Students are also assigned a faculty advisor whose role is primarily as mentor and expert in the field.  The model is illustrated as follows:

The addition of a Peer Mentor program would not only enhance this model but would also integrate existing efforts to develop the professionalism of our graduates.  Recruiters/employer value the professional skill set our students bring with them to the workplace. 

Adding Peer Mentoring to the mix will significantly enrich students’ experiences in the CoB community.  The responsibilities of Peer Mentors will include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Peer Navigator:  Peer Mentors will be directly assigned up to 10 pre-business students.  They will assist these students in learning to navigate MSU/CoB as effective problem solvers. Promoting ‘student agency’ through which students take active responsibility for their learning clearly includes a dimension of peer interaction as well as student/faculty interaction.  See the following for additional information about student and program profiles.
    • Generational research on today’s ‘net-gen’ students supports the success of pairing students in learning: 
    • A number of institutions around the country have also implemented peer mentoring/advising programs which maximize the reliance today’s student has on his/her peers in learning:  Kuh, George; Kinzie, Judith; Schuh, John; & Whitt, Elizabeth, Student Success in College: Creating Conditions that Matter, Jossey-Bass, 2010).  Also, see short list at the end of this document of institutions with fully developed Peer Mentor Programs.
  • Peer Advisor:  Peer Mentors will assist students with academic planning and apprise them of college and campus resources available to support academic success.  If appropriate, peer advisors may refer students to campus resources to explore alternate majors.  It is preferable that students make informed choices about their academic majors and are clear about the rigor and expectations of whatever major they select.
  • Peer Host/Ambassador:  Peer Mentors will serve as CoB ambassadors, hosting events such as entrepreneurs in residence, Orser Speaker Series, campus visitors/prospective students and business advisory council members.  They will also encourage their mentees to participate in the variety of career development and professionalism activities sponsored by the Bracken Center for Excellence as well as student clubs/organizations such as Beta Alpha Psi/Accounting Club, Finance Club, HR/Management Club, Marketing Club and SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise).  In this function, Peer Mentors will develop their own professionalism while serving as visible role models for other students of professionalism and the CoB Student Pride Code.  The CoB expects to create additional incentives for the mentees by registering a number of the events and activities with the MSU Champ Change program.  Internal prizes and/or competitions for Mentors and Mentees will also promote participation and engagement.
  • Peer Professionalism Coach:  Peer Mentors will model the tenets of the CoB Student Pride Code:  P(erformance), R(espect), I(ntegrity), D(iligence), and E(ngagement): .  Just as they are trained and coached through such CoB programs as the Professional Coaching Clinic (PCC), faculty advising/mentoring, and client projects, Peer Mentors will in turn coach new students in their professional development.

Professionalism INPUTS: The Peer Mentor experience will help integrate other college efforts of promoting professionalism.  Through faculty advising, direct coaching in the Professional Coaching Clinic (PCC), participating in student organizations and professional honor societies, and working with external clients, students experience and reflect on what it means to be a professional.  What is sometimes lacking in those experiences is the continued application and transference of that knowledge to other interactions.  Learning about professionalism is not the same as being professional.  One of the strategic goals of the CoB is to integrate the ‘knowing, doing, reflecting’ dimensions of learning.  Just learning about professionalism is not being professional.  Mentoring pre-business students will add the 'doing and reflecting' dimensions to students' learning.

Professionalism OUTPUTS:  Through the Peer Mentoring Program, business students will apply and share their knowledge and experience with their mentees. The pre-business students benefit from the expertise of their Peer Mentors while the mentor puts his/her knowledge into action and in doing so ‘learns by doing/teaching.’  The peer mentor experience is a powerful way to operationalize and synthesize learning.  Professionalism becomes more than something someone told you was important in the ‘real world’  In their roles as navigators, advisors, ambassadors and coaches, Peer Mentors will develop leadership skills which will serve them well in their academic and professional lives. 

Maintaining Degree Works for what is essentially a department of 1100 students will require clear and timely process and audit cycles.  For example in fall 2012 over 35% of the CoB’s current 1156 students had some kind of transfer course work, ISEP/NSE courses and/or course substitutions.  All of these courses must be manually processed using the exception/substitution function in Degree Works.  In addition, on-going maintenance will be required for students who change curriculum into business and/or for students changing options within the CoB, e.g., from management to marketing or finance to accounting.  Departmental substitutions and professional option electives will also need to be manually posted in Degree Works.  Since the degree blocks in Degree Works are option specific, all exceptions/substitutions must be re-processed if a student changes options.  Substitutions/exceptions made for a student do not ‘travel’ with that student if h/she changes options.  The curriculum in business is such that most of the business/option courses are in the junior and senior years.  It is not unusual for a student change options once h/she starts taking these functional courses.  In fall 2012, over 50 students have changed options. To be useful and to promote academic planning and degree completion, Degree Works is subject to continuous auditing and updating cycles.  Advisor assignments must also be maintained and updated in banner

In summary, the addition of a dedicated professional advisor who manages the academic planning through Degree Works and who coordinates the Peer Mentor program will significantly add to students’ competitive edge in preparing for careers.  Expanding students’ professional development by engaging them in mentoring and leadership roles will benefit both the mentor and mentee.

Describe the broader impacts and benefits of this proposal

Broader Impacts and Benefits

Although the Peer Mentor Program will be focused primarily on students in the College of Business, it is anticipated it will have a broader impact on the university community as a whole. 

  • Living & Learning Initiatives:  MSU residence life sponsors a variety of living/learning environments.  Currently, the 11th floor of South Hedges has been designated as a business floor.  Developing academic programming for students who not only live together but are likely enrolled in the same classes together is an ideal opportunity for Peer Mentors to make connections with first year pre-business students.  In doing so, they will add value to the students’ lives outside the classroom as well as promote peer alliances based on academic and social commonalities.
  • Recruiting:  It is anticipated that Peer Mentors will play an active role in student recruiting.  They will be asked to participate in prospective student/family campus visits and other MSU recruiting events such as MSU Fridays.  In this capacity, Peer Mentors will serve as role models to a wide variety of students who are not only ‘shopping’ schools but shopping majors as well.  In addition, Peer Mentors will establish their credibility with students by making a positive impression on their parents who in turn can encourage their students to actively participate in a mentoring relationship.
  • Campus leadership:  Business students frequently serve in student leadership positions on campus such as student orientation leaders, Advocats, and ASMSU financial managers.  In these capacities, they have opportunities to model professionalism.  It is likely that Peer Mentors would continue to serve in these areas as well as peer instructors in courses such as US 101US and BGEN 194US.
Implementation Plan

Implementation Plan

The following timeline illustrates the phases of implementation:

  • Recruitment and Selection of Professional Advisor
  • July 2013:  hiring of Professional Advisor
  • Summer 2013: Degree Works training and implementation of quality assurance cycles
  • Peer Mentor Program: the timeline for implementation of the program is as follows:
  • Fall 2013:  Recruiting and training of 10 Peer Mentors; initial program development
  • Fall 2014:  Program implementation and recruitment of the second cohort of Peer Mentors/Mentees
  • Fall 2015:  Formative assessment of the program
  • Fall 2016:  Summative assessment of the program










10 mentors trained (Juniors)


10@$1000 =


10 mentees/mentor (1st year) = 100 students





Mentor1 (Seniors)


10@$1000 =


Mentee1 (Soph) = 100 students


10 new mentors trained (Juniors)


10@$1000 =


10 mentees/mentor (1st year) = 100 students





Mentor2 (Seniors)


10@$1000 =


Mentee2 (Soph) = 100 students


10 new mentors trained (Juniors)


10@$1000 =


10 mentees/mentor (Freshmen) = 100 students


It is likely that there will be some variability in this model.  Mentors may graduate earlier and/or pre-business students may stop out or change curriculum.  Adjustments will be made to the model as the cycle develops in order to maintain a basic commitment to having approximately 20 mentors/year mentoring approximately 200 pre-business students.

Assessment Plan

Assessment Plan:

Assessment will consist of the following three phases:

Phase One:  Assessment of efficacy of Degree Works quality assurance processes and cycle:  this will be on-going and will involve the evaluation of outcomes such as the following:

  • Timeliness/accuracy of posting of transfer work for new transfer students as well as continuing students who complete transfer courses while still pursuing a degree at MSU.  This will require close coordination with MSU Admissions and the Registrar’s Office
  • Timeliness/accuracy of posting of ISEP/NSE work for continuing students: This will require close coordination with the MSU NSE coordinator and the Office of International Programs.
  • Timeliness/accuracy of posting of departmental substitutions:  This will require coordination with CoB faculty.
  • Timeliness/accuracy of posting of professional option electives:  This will require close coordination with the CoB certifying officer and the Registrar’s Office.  Maintaining consistency between the Degree Works audit and students’ Official Applications for Baccalaureate Degree will be on-going.  The goal will be to reduce the number of deficiency notices sent to degree candidates while maintaining the integrity of degree requirements.
  • Timeliness/accuracy of re-posting course work when students change options within the CoB:  This will be a significant workload which will require significant record keeping in order to ensure requirements are applied consistently to the new option requirements.

Phase Two:  Formative Assessment of Peer Mentor Program:  Since launching a Peer Mentoring program will require substantive training and programmatic development and it is anticipated that each Peer Mentor will be paired with his/her mentees for approximately two years, the initial assessment of the program will include formative assessment of such outcomes as the following:

  • Assessment of the logistics of pairing upper division students with pre-business students
  • Assessment of the efficacy of mentor/mentee interactions, e.g., what worked best?  How could experiences be improved?
  • Assessment of individual program elements such as use of Champ Change as an incentive for participation
  • Assessment of initial increases in student engagement in student organizations and events

Phase Three:  Summative Assessment of Peer Mentor Program:  Once a cycle of mentoring is completed (approximately two years), outcomes such as the following will be assessed:

  • Peer Mentor: increased professionalism of the Peer Mentor will be assessed by self-reflection surveys and recruiter/employer surveys. 
  • Peer Mentee: it is expected that successful mentoring will result in the following:
  • Increases in the number of students admitted to the CoB
  • Subsequent increases in the number of graduates
  • Increases in student engagement in MSU/CoB student organizations
  • Increases in student engagement in CoB activities such as attendance at professional speaker series and Bracken Center career/recruiting events.

The definitive outcome of the program will be the creation of a self-sustaining model wherein pre-business students who were mentored by upper division mentors will actively compete to be selected as a Peer Mentor.  It is expected that the Peer Mentor Program will have a lasting, positive effect on the learning environment and culture of the CoB.  Increased professionalism and engagement will enrich the students’ experience, better prepare them for professional careers and augment CoB alumni support and networking.

If assessed objectives are not met in the timeframe outlined what is the plan to sunset this proposal?

Program Sunset:

In the long term, it is not likely that Degree Works will resolve the continuous maintenance requirements; therefore, the CoB will have to continue to monitor and post (and re-post) specific degree requirements.  For that reason, it is not feasible to sunset that function in the CoB Student Services Office.  In the event that the Peer Mentor Program does not yield the results we anticipate, we will phase out the Peer Mentor program and redeploy the professional advisor’s case load to include general and targeted advising of CoB students.


Institutions with Peer Mentor Programs:

University of Vermont:

Portland State University:

Reed College:

UC Santa Cruz:

Arizona State University:

Dean/Director: Kregg Aytes (
Executive/VP: Martha Potvin (