Mentoring a Diverse Student Population: Annotated Resources, Mentee Profiles and Mentor Commentary

Jeanne C. Sinkford, D.D.S., Ph.D., FACD
Professor and Dean Emeritus
Howard University College of Dentistry
Senior Scholar in Resident Emerita
American Dental Education Association


The 2001 report Nation’s Compelling Interest1 and the 2004 report Missing Persons2 contain seminal resources that document the lack of diversity across the health professions and the need for strong measures to create a more diverse health care workforce. Diversity strategies across the health professions include a pipeline concept3that involves academic preparation, tutorials and mentoring as support services that contribute to student recruitment, academic achievement, and career success.

The following annotated resources are intended for new mentors, volunteers and students to help them develop effective mentoring relationships and sustainable outcomes.


The American Dental Education Association/W.K. Kellogg Foundation (ADEA/WKKF) Minority Dental Faculty Development/Minority Dental Faculty Development Initiative (MDFD/MDFDI) partnered on a series of programs from 2004 to 2017. Program site visits4 provided valuable exchanges related to the importance of mentoring and the variation in types and degrees of mentoring at the postdoctoral level. We found value in both formal and informal mentor/mentee assignments as well as peer-to-peer mentoring at the grantee schools. Three factors influence the mentoring process, success and outcomes—matching, time and commitment.

  1. Matching. The selection and matching of mentors with mentees involved various expectations, mindsets, languages and cultures. Matching often included multiple mentors related to the expectations and needs of mentees. The scope of the mentoring relationships was academic, career and personal.
  2. Time. The time expected of mentors and mentees was of value to proteges’ progress, acceptance and satisfaction. Exchange between and among mentees and mentors at regular intervals was important in charting progress toward agreed upon objectives. Time was also important for mentor/mentee meetings that added both quality and value to program quality.
  3. Commitment. Successful mentoring outcomes depend on the mentor’s and mentee’s commitment to both time and objectives. The value of the time spent mentoring students is recognized and rewarded in academic promotion criteria and mentee success and satisfaction.


A.    Background Information: The Report of the ADEA President’s Commission on Mentoring5,6 includes:

  • Mentoring definition and terms.
  • Impact of race, gender and culture on mentorship.
  • Benefits of mentoring for the mentor.
  • Benefits of mentoring for the mentee.
  • Potential pitfalls of mentoring.
  • Goals and activities of mentoring.
  • Desired characteristics of effective mentors.
  • Desired characteristics of effective mentees. 

B.    Modeling Mentoring: Early lessons from the ADEA/WKKF MDFD program7 include:

  • Mentoring survey results (GOO 98-101).
  • Mentor-mentee relationships.
  • Mentoring issues discussed—academic, career, personal.
  • Characteristics of a successful mentor.
  • Characteristics of a successful mentee.

C.   Faculty Success Through Mentoring: A Guide for Mentors, Mentees and Leadersincludes:

  • Establishing Effective Mentoring Relationships Across Generations. Intergenerational Mentoring (Chapter 7: Generational Profiles, pp. 77−128).
  • Evaluating Your Communication Habits (Communications Quiz, p. 86).
  • Checklist for the Negotiative Phase of Mentoring for Mentees (p. 79).

D.   MEdREP at Tulane: Effectiveness of a Medical Education Reinforcement and Enrichment Program for Minorities in the Health Profession9 includes:

  • Student Support Services (pp. 79−96).
  • Meeting Societal Responsibilities (p. 117).

E.   Mentoring and Diversity: Tips for Students and Professionals for Developing and Maintaining a Diverse Scientific Community10 includes:

  • Precollege and College Preparation for Becoming a Scientist (Chapter 4, pp. 45−63).
  • #8. Develop a Strong Personal Statement (pp. 55−57).
  • #9. Prepare for Standardized Tests (pp. 57−58).

F.     Chapter 4, Portfolio Development: Leadership and Mentoring in Toolkit Volume 1: A Case for Dental Academic Community Partnerships for Leadership and Diversity11 includes:

  • Journal Writing (pp. 80−81).
  • Creation of CV/Resume for Professional Students (pp. 83−84.

G.   Applying a logic model to mentoring and leadership programs,12 from Chapter 2 of Toolkit Volume II: A Case for Dental Academic/Community Partnerships for Leadership and Diversity, includes:

  • Logic Model Concept from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (pp. 22−23).
  • Logic Model Template (pp. 24−25).


Mentee profiles can be viewed in Minority Dental Faculty Development and Inclusion Profiles of Success


Dental College of Georgia at Augusta University
Submitted by Ana Thompson, M.H.E.

What I experienced while preparing the proposal for the grant challenged me to face aspects of my career that I was not expecting. The valuable interaction I had with members of ADEA and MDFD leadership were significantly constructive. This grant also increased my collaboration and interaction with dental faculty at the Dental College of Georgia. While working in the project, I interrelated not only with members of my institution when handling the grant documentation and budget, but also with members of the surrounding communities. I had numerous opportunities to network with teachers and school principals, school nurses and coordinators, and most importantly, the children of those communities. Working in the MDFD project opened my eyes regarding the dental needs of minority children who live and go to school in the areas surrounding the university. 

Personally, my participation in this project opened many doors at the academic and administrative levels. The experience I obtained through several MDFD meetings and during the program also increased my opportunities for promotion from Associate Professor to Professor, and motivated me to seek other opportunities for advancement. Since August 2018, I’ve served as Professor and Chair of the Department of Undergraduate Health Professions. I lead seven different allied health programs, including dental hygiene, in which there is a strong commitment for diversity and inclusion. In my new role, I strongly support faculty in their professional development and serve as mentor to junior faculty. As a minority, I strongly support the career advancement of other minority faculty and students. It makes me proud when I have the opportunity to mentor others and see their successes. I am thankful for the blessings I received during my participation in the MDFD project. 

Howard University College of Dentistry

Submitted by Donna Grant-Mills, D.D.S., M.Ed., RDH

The MDFD/MDFDI programs made a tremendous impact on the professional growth and development of faculty at the Howard University College of Dentistry (HUCD). The program has provided a unique pathway for the expansion of existing community outreach activities and the implementation of projects designed to increase access to care in four major programmatic areas: School-based Oral Health Initiatives, Academic/Community Partnership Building, Interprofessional Education Collaboration, and Mentoring of Junior Faculty and Students. Additionally, this phenomenal program has given me the opportunity to experience transformational mentorship while observing appreciable levels of academic career progress for junior faculty members at HUCD. 

Texas A&M College of Dentistry

Submitted by Ernie S. Lacy, D.D.S.

The MDFD program has been of tremendous value to Texas A&M College of Dentistry! It has allowed the college to target underrepresented minority dental students with an interest in academia, offering them mentoring and training; helped defray the cost of dental school; and made becoming dental school faculty a reality. The students who participated in the program entered academia prepared for success. Many of these students are still on faculty at various dental schools and are serving to diversify their schools’ faculty rosters.

University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry 

Submitted by Darryl D. Pendleton, D.M.D.

The University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry (UIC COD) Minority Dental Faculty Development Program (MDFD) has successfully assisted the college with attracting and developing underrepresented minority (URM) faculty, residents and students. The success of the initial ADEA/WKKF MDFD grant has enabled the college to leverage additional state and college support for URM faculty development through the UIC COD Urban Health Program (UHP). Creating and implementing a plan for institutionalization of the UIC MDFD was a successful lesson learned. 

The UIC UHP is a comprehensive pipeline program (K-12, undergraduate, and graduate and professional schools) that recruits and supports students pursuing careers in the health professions, including the allied health professions, dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, public health and research. Due to the success of the MDFD program, the UHP comprehensive pipeline program now has a faculty development component. 

The UIC UHP program’s goal is to increase and retain minority faculty through networking, mentoring, research opportunities, and skills building with a long-term goal of directly improving oral health care at the institutional and state levels. This is accomplished by developing faculty candidates from predoctoral and postdoctoral URM students enrolled in the UIC COD and Chicago-area training programs, and by developing and retraining URM junior and adjunct faculty members at UIC and other universities. 

The essence of MDFD is not in the quantity of activities but in open dialogue, the acknowledgement of successes and failures that leads us in learning processes to continue to recruit, develop and retain URM faculty. With the support of the initial grant and the success of our efforts, we have been able to secure institution funding via the UIC COD UHP to support our MDFD initiatives. 

University of Michigan School of Dentistry

Submitted by Kenneth B. May, D.D.S., M.S.; Todd V. Ester, D.D.S., M.A.; and Marilyn W. Woolfolk, D.D.S., M.P.H. (Co-principal investigators, University of Michigan MDFD Program)

The University of Michigan School of Dentistry (U-M SOD) is successful in its mission of bringing MDFD/MDFDI candidates to the targeted outcomes of preparation to become dental educators and researchers through the efforts of the Gateway to Future Faculty Organization (GFFO). The MDFD/MDFDI program brought together U-M SOD’s minority affairs/diversity officers and leadership, resulting in a synergistic effect in the forming of a cohort of prospective participants. This resource sharing developed into career and lifelong relationships that benefit the MDFD participants, institutions, and the profession. To date, our program has a documented 32 colleagues with activities in education and research arenas as an interest, or as part-time and full-time appointments. The 32 participants are infused throughout the disciplines: Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (four), Pediatrics (seven), Prosthodontics, Periodontics (five), Endodontics (one), Public Health (one), General Practice Residency (one), Advanced Education General Dentistry (one), Community Health Clinics (seven), and Private Practice General Dentistry (four). The program supported nine scholars, graduate residents, and junior faculty from our pool of participants by leveraging funds from the grants and university support, which places a great emphasis on the importance of recruiting minority students, graduate students and faculty by employing the resource of loan forgiveness. A few items worthy of highlighting that contributed to our success include:

  • Framing of proposals focused on leveraging dollars from Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) programs with our university recruitment resources (e.g., Provost’s Faculty Initiative Program [PFIP], Strategies and Tactics for Recruiting to Improve Diversity and Excellence [STRIDE]) as was done for Dr. Nejay Ananaba.
  • Promote networking opportunities for potential faculty, such as we provided for Dr. Bryan Williams and Dr. Duane Bennett.
  • The continuous promotion of dental education as a realistic possibility and coaching/mentoring students and junior faculty in their career aspirations as related to becoming faculty and advancing in the ranks, notably Dr. Darnell Kaigler, Dr. Erin Ealba, Dr. Paul Lopez, Dr. Allen Robinson, Dr. Sam Malcheff, Dr. Evelyn Lucas-Perry, and others beyond the walls of U-M SOD.
  • The concept of critical mass is imperative. Through our MDFD program, we increased the number of URM participant students, faculty and graduate students engaged in faculty development. This increase we believe had a significant impact on our dental school culture and climate.
  • Encourage students to pursue specialty and Ph.D. training: for example, Dr. Erin Ealba, Dr. Allen Robinson, Dr. Duane Bennett II, Dr. Paul Lopez, Dr. Reynaldo Rivera, Dr. Tyra Jefferson, Dr. Fernando Urzua, Dr. Imani Lewis Dr. Ebone Jordan-Ujari, Dr. Effie Richardson, Dr. Justin Echols and others outside the walls of U-M SOD.
  • Encourage students/graduates to pursue opportunities in community clinics as we did with Dr. Rachel Torres-Hobbs, Dr. Natolya Thomas, Dr. Ogbonna Bowden, Dr. Ozzie Smith, Dr. Effie Richardson, Dr. Jessica Lee and others.
  • Encourage students to further their education (e.g., AEGD/GPR) as was done with Dr. Philippe Rouchon, Dr. April Patterson, and others.
  • The placement of our graduates in positions and programs are successes and highlights them as role models to impact the communities and educational centers in which they serve. 

We offer a point of observation—one of our mentees in GFFO (a trail blazer of sorts) actually pursued the M.P.H. program on her own without a formal mechanism for it to occur. While not a true pilot when she initiated her program, it did help U-M SOD in the development of the new curriculum model that will accommodate students who want to get an M.P.H. in the future. Now, U-M SOD has adopted a new D.D.S. curriculum model that includes a formal track/pathway for students that want to pursue the D.D.S. and take time to complete a Master of Public Health, Master of Public Policy, Master of Business Administration, etc. 

University of Minnesota School of Dentistry

The Value of the MDFD/MDFDI Program. Submitted by Karl Self, D.D.S., M.B.A.

Participation in the MDFD program has contributed to positive outcomes at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. Primarily, we developed a framework to broaden faculty development. Through the creation of a New Faculty Orientation and Professional Development program, we initially saw the benefits for the minority faculty that piloted the program. This program was an essential element in enriching the performance of those individuals in teaching, research and administration. The mentoring and leadership development not only enhanced participants’ commitment to academic careers, it has increased their effectiveness as a role models for students, which may be instrumental in developing academic career aspirations in diverse students for years to come. Thus, the piloted program has been incorporated into the evolving school-wide faculty development initiative that came out of the school’s most recent strategic planning process. Additionally, the ability to develop relationships with and learn from other institutions engaged in the MDFD/MDFDI program has strengthened my effectiveness as an advocate for issues of diversity and inclusion.


1.     Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. In the Nation’s Compelling Interest: Ensuring Diversity in the Healthcare Workforce. Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2004.

2.     Missing Persons: Minorities in the Health Professions. Washington, DC: Sullivan Commission; 2004. .

3.     Sinkford JF, Valachovic RW, Weaver RG, Harrison SG. ADEA/WKKF Access to Dental Careers Program: Supporting a Dental Pipeline Concept and Program. Washington, DC. J Dent Educ 2010, 74(10): 1166−69. At:

4.     Toolkit Volume I: A Case for Dental Academic Community Partnerships for Leadership and Diversity: ADEA Minority Dental Faculty Development and Inclusion (MDFDI) Program. Washington, DC: American Dental Education Association, 2016 (pp. 66−9).

5.     Friedman PK, Arena C, Atchison K, Beemsterboer PL, Farsai P, Giusti JB, Haden NK, Martin ME, Sanders CF, Sudzina MR, Tedesco LA, Williams JN, Zinser N, Valachovic RW, Mintz JS, Sandmeyer MS. Report of the ADEA President’s Commission on Mentoring. J Dent Educ 2004, 68(3):390−96.

6.     Growing Our Own. The ADEA Minority Dental Faculty Development Program: A Manual for Institutional Leadership in Diversity. Washington, DC: American Dental Education Association, 2011 (pp. 87−92).

7.     Sinkford J, West J, Weaver R, Valachovic R. Modeling Mentoring: Early Lessons from the W.K. Kellogg/ADEA Minority Dental Faculty Development Program. J Dent Educ 2009, 73(6):753−63. Also, Growing Our Own. The ADEA Minority Dental Faculty Development Program: A Manual for Institutional Leadership in Diversity. Washington, DC: American Dental Education Association, 2011 (GOO, pp. 98−101).

8.     Bland CJ, Taylor AL, Shollen SL, Weber-Main AM, Mulcahy PA. Faculty Success Through Mentoring: A Guide for Mentors, Mentees and Leaders. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education, in Partnership with the American Council on Education, 2009 (pp. 79, 86, 117−28).

9.     Pisano JC, Epps AC. MEdREP at Tulane: Effectiveness of a Medical Education Reinforcement and Enrichment Program for Minorities in the Health Professions. Mount Kisco, New York: Futura Publishing Company, 1985 (pp. 79−96, 117).

10.  Landefeld, T. Mentoring and Diversity: Tips for Students and Professionals for Developing and Maintaining a Diverse Scientific Community. New York: Springer Science & Business Media, LLC, 2009 (Chapter 4, pp. 45−63).

11.  Ester T, May K, Woolfolk M. Chapter 4, Portfolio Development: Leadership and Mentoring. In: Toolkit Volume I: A Case for Dental Academic Community Partnerships for Leadership and Diversity: ADEA Minority Dental Faculty Development and Inclusion (MDFDI) Program. Washington, DC: American Dental Education Association, 2016 (pp. 80, 83−4).

12.  West JF. Applying a Logic Model to Mentoring and Leadership Programs, Chapter 2: Taking Mentoring and Leadership to the Next Level. In: Toolkit Volume II: A Case for Dental Academic/Community Partnerships for Leadership and Diversity. Washington, DC: American Dental Education Association, 2017 (pp. 22−5).