One of the first concerns in a discussion of mentoring is the definition of a mentor. The term can be used in a variety of ways and in a variety of situations, but we are primarily interested in faculty mentoring of graduate students. In that regard, we align with the definition and roles cited by the Council of Graduate Schools: 

"Mentors are advisors, people with career experience willing to share their knowledge; supporters, people who give emotional and moral encouragement; tutors, people who give specific feedback on one's performance; masters, in the sense of employers to who one is apprenticed; sponsors, sources of information about and aid in obtaining opportunities; models of identity, of the kind of person one should be to be an academic." 
- Morris Zelditch in a 1990 speech to the Western Association of Graduate Schools (Gaffney, 1995, p. 1). 

As that quote can attest, the mentor takes on many different roles that are all valuable to the graduate student. Being an effective advisor is just one of many tasks that fall under the domain of the effective mentor. It is natural that some people may be more effective or comfortable with some of these roles more than others, but the effective mentor should seek to be effective in all of these areas. 

Companion Question: 

1) A faculty mentor of a graduate student is asked to take on the following role(s)

  1. Advisor - A person with career experience that gives advice on courses to take, university policies, and the procedure of getting through a master's or doctoral program.
  2. Supporter - Someone who gives emotional and moral encouragement
  3. Tutor - Someone who gives specific feedback on one's performance
  4. Sponsor - Someone who is a source of information about aid in obtaining opportunities
  5. Role model - Someone who reflects the kind of person one should be to be an academic.
  6. All of the above*

* = Correct answer