5 Reasons You Should Be At This Year's Institute

Tags: Higher Education, Institute on Teaching and Mentoring, Conference, Diversity, Doctoral

The Institute on Teaching and Mentoring is an annual event that brings together, Ph.D. scholars, college/university faculty and recruiting institutions to address the shortage of faculty diversity in America. The event is hosted by the Southern Regional Education Board Doctoral Scholars Program and provides scholars with workshops on graduate school survival skills and career preparation. It is a one-stop-shop for those who want to get a leg up on their peers. Here are five reasons you should attend this year’s Institute in Atlanta. 

1. It is the largest gathering of minority Ph.D. scholars in the U.S.

2014 Institute on Teaching & Mentoring Group Photo










A common issue we hear from minority Ph.Ds. is the pressure of being the only _____ (fill in the blank) in their department. Many times, this has come with feelings of isolation and impostor syndrome for scholars. It can be difficult and draining to not see someone who looks like you in a part of your life where you spend a large portion of your time. The Institute fills this gap. In the last three years, we have had attendance reach over 1,000. Many of these individuals being minority Ph.D. scholars and faculty. The Institute is a reminder that minority doctoral excellence not only exists, but it thrives. From hearing stories of triumph during the graduation ceremony to meeting a new friend while working on a paper in the lobby, you will see people who look and feel the way you do. While you may be the “only” at your institution, you will be far from that here. 

2. Opportunities to land an academic position or postdoc

Doctoral Scholars Program grad meeting with recruiter at Institute










This year’s Institute location allows for over 100 recruiting institutions. If previous years are an indicator, we always have institutions on the waiting list to recruit. College and universities from across the country come with the purpose of hiring diverse talent for faculty positions. Recently, a DSP scholar met a recruiter at Agnes Scott University, kept up the relationship after the Institute, and was hired upon graduation. The Institute gives scholars a chance to make connections with recruiters, and get in front of people who can help make hiring decisions. There are also sessions for scholars to build stronger connections with recruiters by allowing them to review their CVs at the Institute's curriculum vitae review sessions. 

3. Learn a new skill from experts in higher education

Ansley Abraham, Director of Doctoral Scholars Program, speaking at Institute










Do you have an elevator pitch that succinctly describes your research interest and what you can bring to a position? Do you know how to write an application for a grant to ensure its funding? Are you experiencing writer’s block, and need some help finishing the dissertation? The Institute has sessions such as:

  • Describing Your Research in Five Minutes or Less
  • Writing Competitive Grants
  • Writing the Dissertation
  • Negotiating for Your First Faculty Position and many others

Many times, graduate schools may not have the time or resources to cover all these topics, but the Institute seeks to fill in that gap and provide tips and advice from those who have not only studied these issues, but successfully mastered life after the Ph.D. Also, the Institute greatly believes in the impact of mentorship. Therefore, we also have sessions for scholars who bring faculty mentors/advisors to learn skills related to recruiting and retaining minority faculty, and mentoring minority scholars. 

4. Meet a changemaker in your field

DSP graduate meeting with recruiter










University program directors, deans, professors, entrepreneurial leaders, authors, provosts and many other higher education professionals attend the Institute as presenters. Their purpose is twofold: provide valuable guidance on various important topics in higher education and to serve as people who can help you even after the Institute. Our staff has heard stories of presenters becoming mentors to scholars, and helping attendees with the job search. They are researchers, award-winning authors, fellows and influencers. You have no shortage of people to reach out to for guidance and support. Also, you could be sitting with your next co-author or researcher, your fellow scholars and peers are also people you can reach out to for community. 

5. Be Inspired

DSP graduate speaking to Institute










There is no shortage of encouragement and motivation at the Institute. Friday night is the annual graduation ceremony where Ph.D. graduates from across the country walk across the stage to receive their awards and a chance to talk about their journey to this moment. Many address the feelings of isolationism, impostor syndrome, and burn out many Ph.D. scholars experience. Others detail stories of overcoming life-threatening illnesses, financial hurdles and family stresses to earn the Ph.D. Even though their circumstances may be different, they all convey the same thing: “I made it, and so can you.” Many scholars have said that this night propelled them to complete their Ph.Ds. so they could stand at the podium the next year to proclaim the same thing to the scholars coming after them. The Institute not only inspires, but it also motivates creativity. Talking to a peer about a research project they are conducting, getting ideas from a Chalk Talk elevator pitch session or hearing the advice of a presenter.


The Institute is an opportunity to adequately prepare for life after the Ph.D. If you have not yet been to a recruitment event, are struggling through the dissertation, or need a boost to know that you are not the only one on this path – The Institute is the place you want to be this October 26-29 at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis in Atlanta, Georgia. 

If you are interested in attending the Institute, email Chanell Turner at chanell.turner@sreb.org to be added to the invitation list. Registration begins the week of June 26th and last until the second week in October.