Mentornet's Wisconsin and Hawaii statewide initiatives

Mary Jo Wellenstein, Sandra Courter, Susannah Sandrin, Karen Showers, Leslie Wilkins, Carol Muller, Jennifer Chou-Green, Ann Bloor, Laurie Mayberry, Isla Yap

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


The state of Wisconsin and state of Hawaii are the only states in the nation to have offered MentorNet membership to all public universities and technical colleges. This innovative partnership highlights a new model to launch MentorNet on college campuses. MentorNet, the E-Mentoring Network for Diversity in Engineering and Science and an award-winning nonprofit e-mentoring organization, offers a proven effective means to connect students (protégés) in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) majors with professionals (mentors) in industry, government and higher education. Since mentoring is recognized as an important engagement strategy to encourage women and girls to pursue STEM education and careers, other states can benefit from the story of the Wisconsin and Hawaii collaboration. Hawaii's Maui Economic Development Board and Wisconsin's Milwaukee School of Engineering have partnered under a Women in Technology grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service. This grant is to encourage women and girls in rural areas to pursue STEM education and careers. Because students at the Hawaii and Wisconsin partner campuses were enthusiastic about their MentorNet experience, the Women in Technology grant funded a two-year contract to waive membership fees for MentorNet for all four-year and two-year University of Wisconsin System and Wisconsin Technical College System campuses; 30 institutions could potentially participate. One of the aims of this program was to encourage more technical/community colleges to partner with MentorNet, broadening the range of mentoring opportunities for the diverse population of students who attend such schools. To promote MentorNet participation in the Wisconsin systems, a collaborative team from Hawaii, Milwaukee School of Engineering, MentorNet, the University of Wisconsin System, and the Wisconsin Technical College System held a one-day orientation training in August 2005. A hands-on training session was offered via a phone/web conference in October 2005. During the first year, 24 campuses participated. The University of Wisconsin System includes 26 campuses: 13 two-year campuses, 11 four-year campuses, two large Ph.D. granting institutions and the University of Wisconsin Extension. Of the participating University of Wisconsin campuses, a majority of the MentorNet protégés (73%) came from four-year undergraduate programs. A solid majority (83%) were female. Students at one of the University of Wisconsin four-year campuses rated MentorNet higher than the national average for the statement "I feel that my college should continue to participate in MentorNet." The Wisconsin Technical College System has 16 colleges with 47 campuses; 12 of the 16 Wisconsin Technical College System colleges joined MentorNet in 2005 and have continued the relationship. Additionally, MentorNet created an E-Forum group specifically for technical college nontraditional students. In October 2006, the collaborative team followed up with a third MentorNet workshop for campus representatives. This paper describes the statewide initiatives of Hawaii's and Wisconsin's projects, including the administrative aspect, the profile, numbers and evaluations of the protégés; a comparison of the models; several case studies; and, the resulting collaborative efforts that evolved after the 2005 MentorNet in Wisconsin orientation workshop. This paper provides insights regarding implementation of such statewide mentoring initiatives and suggests effective strategies for other states to consider.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes
Event114th Annual ASEE Conference and Exposition, 2007 - Honolulu, HI, United States
Duration: Jun 24 2007Jun 27 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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